THANKSGIVING POEMS

I sometimes like to go back and browse through my holiday writings from past years. The poems and stories I wrote 2 or 3 — or  8 oar 10 — years ago meant a lot to me and still do. So I often recycle them when those holidays roll around again. I hope you enjoy these recycled Thanksgiving poems.

`

AH, THANKSGIVING, HOW I LOVE YOU!

Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:

“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”

All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.

And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.

Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

*** 


THANKSGIVING ACROSTIC

Thursdays come and go; in every month there’s four or five.
Hardly anyone’s attention they demand.
Ahh, but there’s one month when Thursday is a special day.
November’s got the situation well in hand.
Kinsmen young & old along with neighbors, best of friends,
Stop their normal labor briefly and, instead,
Gather close, declare a feast, and celebrate all day
In churches, homes, and civic halls – wherever led.
Voices glad and warm with love fill up the heart and soul,
Inviting those attending to lay burdens down.
Neath autumn’s healthy harvest, tables beckon us: so come;
Giving thanks to God, now let us gather ’round.

***


WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

I spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.

It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.

Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!

So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.

***


JUST NEEDED TO LAUGH A LITTLE

The Word of God says, “A Merry heart does good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22). And Reader’s Digest used to have a joke page with the heading “The most completely lost of all days is that on which one has not laughed.”  I agree whole-heartedly with both those sentiments, and I wanted to post something really light-hearted. But I didn’t have time today to write a brand new short story, so I pulled this one from my archives. I wrote it some time ago for a writing challenge, but it still makes me laugh even though I’ve read it a few times now.  I hope you get a chuckle out of it too.

ANTHROPOLOGY 101

`
My marriage to an anthropologist was educational – and short. Herman loved his work and was really quite vain about it. He honestly believed that there was no people group that he could not figure out and eventually befriend – even when scores of others in his field had failed.

For years, he had been studying one particular tribe of natives on a tiny island in the Pacific that most ship’s captains refused as a port of call. The tribe was said to be cannibalistic, but my Herman just knew that he could convert them after explaining how much he had studied them in order to become their friend.

On looking back, I suppose that I should have put my foot down and refused when he insisted we honeymoon on the island. But he was so certain that he could convince the natives to help him with his research. So, as usual in our relationship, I acquiesced. My friends and family scolded me for my attitude. They said Herman should be treating me like a goddess rather than just ordering me around and dragging me off to some God-forsaken island to begin our marriage.

When we booked passage on the ship, we had to pay for a skiff as well because the captain told us that he would anchor far offshore, and we would have to go the rest of the way on our own. When we left the ship, he reminded us again what fools he considered us. But Herman insisted that he had everything under control.

We hadn’t been on the island more than an hour before the tribe captured us. They were quite large – both men and women – and exceedingly dark in coloring. They bound Herman immediately and tied him to a large pole at one end of their village. I was shaking like a leaf as they approached me, but they just looked at me with wide eyes and smiles, while making the most excited conversation with each other. I could understand only a very small part of what they said – mainly by their actions.

Then four of them brought a huge carrier – sort of a chair supported between two long poles and carried by the natives. One of the men – seemingly the chief – took my hand and escorted me to the chair. They then carried me ceremoniously into the center of the village and escorted me to an elevated area on which sat a throne – all inlaid with gold. I sat, still quaking inside, but almost too overcome by my curiosity to concentrate on being afraid.

Next they placed a crown of the most exquisite jewels on my head and then bowed down to the ground in front of me. Finally, I spoke and asked in my own language for an explanation, hoping maybe at least one of them would understand me. One young man came forward and spoke to me in my native tongue to explain.

Evidently my golden blond hair was a sign to them. They had been expecting the goddess of their tribe to come to them in person for many years, and the sign of her true identity was that her head would shine like the sun. So I’m to be worshiped and given every one of my heart’s desires forever. I suppose one might say that, in a way, it’s thanks to Herman that I’m being treated like a goddess.

Of course, they prepared a huge feast in celebration of my arrival, and I guess everyone would have to admit that Herman truly did give his all for the cause of getting to know this tribe of people better. Naturally, I declined any food.

I certainly miss Herman, but I have to admit that what worries me more is what will happen when my roots start to grow out.    

 


A DRINK CALLED ‘JOE’

I’m still working on my coffee poetry book, and I’m thinking about including this poem in the mix. I’m not sure yet, because I’m not positive it’s clear and understandable. If any of you who read it on here have an opinion about whether the point is clear — or confusing — let me know in the comments. Thanks. And — hopefully — you’ll enjoy it.

A CUP OF JOSEPH DANIELS???

I heard the story this way,
And perhaps it’s mostly true:
That way back when, in World War I,
Coffee’s popularity grew.

It seems a Joseph Daniels,
Navy Secretary then,
Made efforts strong to change some things
And bolster moral men.

He instituted new rules
So Navy guys would think,
And contemplate the consequence
Of inebriating drink.

Banned alcohol consumption,
And, naturally, that led
To stewards brewing coffee more
For sailors to drink instead.

According to the legend,
This mark the guys did toe,
But much disgruntled at their loss,
Nicknamed their coffee “Joe.”


PICK-ME-UP CINQUAIN

Life gets so busy, and I’m finding it harder and harder to post on the website the way I used to. I miss it. And I decided today that it has been entirely too long since I have written some cinquain — or since I have written about coffee. So I decided to combine the two subjects and here’s what I came up with.

photo courtesy of coyot @ pixabay.com

PICK-ME-UP

I need
A pick-me-up.
And I know what will work:
A cup of fragrant, fresh-brewed joy — 
Coffee!

It’s great
At any time.
One cup won’t be enough.
I feel inspired to brew up a
Full pot.

YES!
🙂

 


MARCHING BACKWARDS

They say March comes in like a lion
And tippy-toes out like a lamb.
But where I live things are all backwards,
And, frankly, I don’t understand.

When March came along all was quiet;
Our lion must have been asleep.
For weeks we’ve had somnolent weather,
Right up to March’s last week.

Now trash cans are tossed to the neighbor’s;
A box on the porch flies around.
The flagpole is bending way over,
And outside I can’t stand my ground.

This last week of March is so gusty
With all sorts of things on the wing.
Our lion has finally wakened
And now wants to prove he’s still king.


WHAT DO YOU SEE? # 122 – ‘MISSED CALLS’

Sadje’s “What Do You See?” challenge is really a challenge this week. But I decided to take a whimsical approach and came up with this little poem.

photo courtesy of 8maching @ unsplash.com

MISSED CALLS

He lived his life connected
To all of cyberspace.
He swiped and clicked and texted
At an amazing pace.

His phone was an appendage
That never left his grip.
To work, to play, to bathroom — 
It always made the trip.

There were some friends who warned him
That he was too intense;
His focus on that device
Went beyond common sense.

He couldn’t stop himself though.
At every little ‘ding’
He had to stop whatever,
And bow to that darn thing.

Now, years after his passing,
From underneath the sod,
He still can hear that ‘dinging’
From what he’d made his god.

And though beneath the grasses
He lies in somber state,
His claw-like hands reach for it,
But, alas, it is too late.


TRENT’S WEEKLY SMILE – 2/8/22

Well, like Trent, I had to deal with snow and ice this week. Now I’m a fan of light snow that dusts the trees and fences and looks like a postcard. But when it comes to heavy snow and ice, I have a really hard time finding a smile anywhere. However, I did manage a few.

To begin with, I had to make a trip to a town about 45 minutes away on the day the ice was supposed to begin, so I planned things in order to be home before it started. I allowed for it to begin an hour or so earlier than the forecast — I thought. Unfortunately, I was off a little, and before I was quite finished with my visit in that town, the ice started coming down fast and furious. It had my car covered in no time, and I scurried to get myself out of town and on the road home.

The streets in town were already treacherous, but when I got out of town on a long stretch of winding road bordered by large farmland on both sides, the ride got even more serious. I drove in 3rd gear most of the way, but switched to 2nd on the serious curves — of which there were several. Tedious and tense are the best descriptors I can come up with. And did I remember to say I prayed all the way? Well, I did.

But at last, I pulled safely into my driveway, thanks to the dear Lord, and that brought a smile.

The next day I found my yard, my drive, and my car, covered by a heavy layer of ice and then snow. Now, although the official measurement would have kept the snow accumulation at about 6 inches — which is fairly normal for our area of Southern Illinois — the drifts at my house and against my car were more like a foot. No smiles there.

But then I thought about the birds, and due to the fact that I had stocked up on necessities beforehand, I had an extra quarter loaf of bread that was nearing it’s end date, as well as part of a bag of cookies that had been there over 3 months, and I knew I wouldn’t finish them. I also had a half package of frozen waffles which I had forgotten about and bought a new package. So I had lots to feed the birdies, and over the next 3 days, I parceled out all those things — and one or two other munchies I dug out — and when the birds all came to enjoy their feasts, I smiled.

Then at last — after three days of work — late Sunday afternoon, I finally got my car dug out. I still had to wade through drifts almost a foot high to get to one side of the car, but I managed. And believe me, I smiled.

But even better than that: yesterday, I actually got out of my driveway and went to the store and the post office. I was a free woman again, and that gave me the biggest smile of all. 🙂

To take part in “The Weekly Smile,” visit Trent’s Blog for details.


ABOUT SNOW # 2

 

I gave you the pretty poems about snow yesterday. Now, I’m going to tell you how I really feel:

 

 

GO WHERE???

I am so tired of ice and snow.
I’d like a way to make them go.
I’d like to send them straight to hell,
But that would cool things off down there.
And when hell freezes over, well,
What happens then it’s hard to tell,
For lots of folks have said they’d do
All kinds of things if that came true.
So, darn, I guess I have to wait
And let things melt at a slow pace.
But if they last much longer here,
I still may send them straight down there.

 


ABOUT SNOW

Well, it’s snowing here in Southern Illinois, USA. We got a thorough cover of ice last night, and now the snowflakes are coming down fast and furious — sort of hurling themselves at the ground, almost as if they are trying to beat each other to the goal. I don’t like snow on the roads and walkways, but I enjoy watching it come down — and I enjoy the fresh, pristine look of everything that is covered in brand new snow. I just wish it could land on only specific areas and leave the others untouched. I’ve written a poem or two about my ambivalent feelings, and I felt like writing another one today. So I decided I’d do a post that is a combination of a few snow poems and snow pictures. The poems are mine, but I’m featuring photos from my good friend Terry Valley, who is a professional photographer in Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy them.

SNOWY CINQUAIN

Snowflakes
On a mission,
Hurling steadfastly down.
Racing each other to their goal:
Whiteout.

*******

THIS IS DREAMING WEATHER

This is dreaming weather.
Nothing much to do
Except to watch the blizzard blow
And have a snack or two.

Yes, this is dreaming weather:
A time to contemplate
And set imagination free
To wander and create.

Ah, this is dreaming weather:
While by the storm confined,
Let my heart and soul take wings
And leave this world behind.

*******

SNOWCHILD

When I was a child, I thought as a child,
And snow was a thing so delightful.
From school we were free; we got wet to the knees,
And our mom’s day was thrown all off schedule.

But now that I’m grown, I must do on my own
All the chores Mom and Dad used to dread:
Stock up food by the loads, drive on slippery roads,
Shovel snow, and repair that old sled.

Now I look with dismay at the skies leaden gray
As I trudge to the store for supplies.
De-icer and salt sell out fast with no halt.
I need new boots to tread on the ice.

The wind from the north is bitter and harsh,
But my temperature, still it is rising;
I am in a foul mood, for I see nothing good
That can come from a snowstorm arriving.

But then the flakes start, and I feel in my heart –
Watching white, fluffy, wonderful, wild
Filling all of my world with such beauty unfurled –
That in truth I am still just a child!

*******


TRENT’S WEEKLY SMILE — 1/22/22

I actually had two reasons to smile this week. The first reason is that I got to visit with my great-niece to help celebrate her birthday. We couldn’t work things out on the actual day, but she and her two brothers are always very philosophical about those things. Her parents are both very busy people as well, and often the birthday celebrations have to be adjusted a day or two one way or the other.

I don’t have children of my own, but I have three great-nephews, ranging in age from 11-13, and one great-niece, who just turned 11. I love all of them dearly — and equally. They are all extremely intelligent and pro-active in their involvement with the world and other people, and I have some of the most interesting conversations with them. And I love buying gifts for all of them. But any of you ladies out there who have had the pleasure of having a daughter or niece will understand when I say that there is just something really special about buying pretty things for a girl. I guess maybe it’s partly that I get to live vicariously through her delight in the things she receives.

She is very style conscious and absolutely loves dressing up. One of her special delights is in using pretty hair ornaments of all kinds. So I bought her a dress and a special selection of fancy barrettes — all different colors. I also threw in a huge chocolate covered marshmallow heart. She was delighted, and we had a good time together. She immediately went to work changing her hairstyle so that she could start using the barrettes right then.

My second smile came just yesterday. I run a small business from my home, but no matter how small a business is, we still have to have a tax number, keep track of sales, pay sales tax, and send in yearly reports. I absolutely detest — let me say that again — DETEST — doing any kind of accounting work or filling out and turning in government forms. I always put it off until the very last minute, and then I have myself so stressed by all of it that I make it three times as hard as it really is. But, yesterday, I got all my accounting figured out and came out with the right numbers in all the right places. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and I’ll be smiling about that for a long time — probably until next January — when I will stop smiling and start fretting over having to do it all again for 2023.


To participate in the Weekly Smile, just hop over to Trent’s Blog and learn how to join in the fun.


trent’s weekly smile — 1/14/22

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to participate in Trent’s Weekly Smile posts, but I really did want to get back to it. The truth is that I haven’t been posting regularly at all during the past year and a half. Like most people, my whole life — work, social functions, even ministry functions — have been totally messed up with all the covid junk. (I refuse to capitalize that word; it doesn’t deserve to be capitalized.)  There have been a number of things that kept me from smiling. My sister had a battle with cancer during that time, and she passed away in the latter half of 2021. So smiles have been a little hard to come by.

She was the only really close family I had left, although I do try to stay connected with her two sons and their families. This year at Christmas, we felt the need to be connected even more strongly, but on Christmas Eve, one of my nephews and his wife had to be tested for covid, and they couldn’t get the results back in time for us to be together at Christmas. They didn’t have covid (and that in itself is worth a smile), but our window of opportunity for that holiday was past. But not to be defeated, we finally worked out a plan to get together at a later time, so that we could all eat together and open gifts and just have another “family” Christmas.

Now, I come to the ‘SMILE’ part of my story. One of my nephews had bought the newest Oculus Quest for his brother’s kids. Now, I has seen these gizmos and had watched a couple kids having fun with them, but I never even thought about trying one out. But, lo and behold, my nephew who had purchased the Oculus decided his 73-year-old aunt needed to get into the 21st century a little better, so he insisted that I put on the headset and let him instruct me in how to use it.

I’m not sure how many of you readers out there have tried out the Oculus Quest, so some of you probably know a lot more about it than I do even now, but I can say it was truly an experience I hadn’t even imagined. I’ve seen sci-fi movies in which characters experienced some things like I experienced with the Oculus, but I just never really thought about doing so myself. 

It was truly like entering an entirely different world. In fact the scene that came up immediately made me feel that I was standing on a strange planet, and if I hadn’t felt the good old Earth beneath my feet, I would have been a little nervous. I have to say the fact that my nephew and his son made an issue of making sure I had plenty of empty space all around me before I put the headset on was a little unnerving to begin with. My thought was, What am I going to be doing in all this space? But I realized that it was just precautionary since I couldn’t see the real word around me at all once the headset was on.

The options for activities and games that are literally “at your fingertips” is amazing. Just learning how to maneuver the hand sets was an experience. But as strange as it was, it was also delightful. I definitely smiled a lot. And even though it’s been a little more than a week since that experience, I am still smiling every time I remember it. So I figured why not make that the smile I share for this week.

The takeaway from all this experience is two-fold: Remembering it and the comradery with my nephews still makes me smile — and the whole experience has triggered a couple new ideas for brand new stories. And new story ideas always make me smile. So if any of you writers out there haven’t tried out the Oculus Quest yet, you might want to put it on your list of things to do in this New Year.

 


Poems At Christmas – # 3

WINTER FRIENDS

I had a little snowman;
His smile was big and wide.
He was a happy snowman,
When I was by his side.

But since it was quite freezing,
I could not stay and play,
And when I had to go in,
He followed me one day.

I hurried to the fireplace
To warm my hands and toes,
And suddenly I found myself
Adrift in melted snow.

My happy little snowman
Had come inside to play,
Not knowing that the warm fire
Would melt him quite away.

But not to worry, dear friends;
I’ve dipped him up you see,
And poured the water outside
Where it will now refreeze.

Then I’ll scoop him back up
Add some fresh snow too,
And mold him back together
So he’ll be good as new.


Being Present

I glanced at the screen on my cell phone this morning and noted the date: Friday, December 17, 2021. And normally I would have laid the phone down and gone on about my business, giving the information very little thought. But, for some reason, I was suddenly struck by the thought that this was going to be the only day I would ever see that particular date. It is a reality today, but only for today, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I know — some of you are thinking — what on earth is she talking about? Does this woman have nothing else to do with her time?  🙂

Actually, I had a whole list of things I needed to do with my time today, but I just couldn’t get away from that thought for quite a while. I realized pretty quickly that the Lord was taking advantage of that date on the phone to get me to focus on the fact that I needed to be cognizant of today. I didn’t need to be thinking about yesterday and all the stuff I didn’t get done, or that I did wrong, or even what I did right. I lived yesterday completely, and it’s gone. And He didn’t want me focusing on all the plans coming up for the next week, trying to figure out how I could make them all work out.  He especially didn’t want me focusing on all the possible future things that had the power to cause me worry or fear. 

He wanted me focusing on Him and what was on His heart for me to do and be today. He has plans for all of us that are good. But He so seldom gets our full attention long enough to be able to make us understand what those plans are and to get us to carry them out. I’m convinced from my many decades of walking with God that there isn’t a day that goes by that He doesn’t have some good things in mind for us to be a part of.

So as I contemplated the truth about this day being a unique gift that will come to me only once in my entire lifetime, I realized that I too wanted to be focused on what I could do and be that was good today. And I wanted to focus on some good things that could come my way as well — things that wouldn’t have an opportunity to come to me tomorrow or next week — but just today. I kept hearing this admonition in my heart: “Be present in this day. Enjoy it. Be grateful for it. Live it to the fullest.”

As those thoughts lodged in my heart, I was reminded of a little short story I wrote several years ago — a sort of “take-off” from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I was participating in a writing challenge in which we were supposed to write about some of the characters as if they were living today. One of those stories made the very point that the Lord was making to me today about being present in the here and now. So I thought I’d share it here in this post. It fits into the season, since I’ve borrowed the Spirit of Christmas Present. Some of you might remember the story, and several of you will be reading it for the first time. But I hope it spurs each of you on to focus on being truly present in your day today — and then to do so again tomorrow — and the next day — and — well, you know.

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW

Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.

“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.

“Who’s there?”

The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”

“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”

The figure shrugged. “Among others.”

“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”

“You need a hammer to your head!,” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”

“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”

“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re always trying to live either in the past – sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb – or in the future – always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”

“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”

“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”

“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life that we did for him?”

“Who’s we?”

“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”

Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.

“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”

“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”

“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”

His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to live in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with each of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”

Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”

His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.

“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”

“But I don’t think I know how.”

“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”

Reggie hung his head again, leaning over with his elbows on his knees, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that had just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life.

“Yeah, you might be right.” He surprised himself by saying the words aloud. He was still looking down at the floor but his mind was going back over his visitor’s words. Even though it felt a little spooky hearing them from this apparition, he knew in his heart that he needed to try to follow the advice.

“I’ll do it!” he said as he looked back up to the visitor to confirm his decision. But then he blinked. The room was empty.