To be American in 2017

It’s the week before the election
and I know I will be away,
but it is also the day after the storm
and power is out in City Hall.

There are voting booths in the hall
and when I pull the curtains
even the ambient light
from the windows vanishes.

I am voting absentee
and in the dark.

I have been feeling like this
for a year now,
and it is more than
last year’s election didn’t go “my way.”

That happens often enough.

And it is more than being
disengaged –
in fact, I have marched, petitioned
called Congress,
held my hands
around a small flame at vigils,
more than ever before.

And really,
this is after all a local election –
city council, police commission,
two ballot questions
about campaign transparency.

But I feel in my belly —
how we are newly absentee
from any real control
over our future.
And afraid –
like children in the night.

So I reach out
for patient waiting hands.
People from many nations
have lived this so long
and become our companions
teaching us how to live
now that it is our turn
to feel powerless.


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3 Responses to To be American in 2017

  1. Jane Fisler Hoffman says:

    Painful but true… for years I kept an editorial cartoon showing looong lines waiting to vote in S African election with gun toting guards and question “what keeps people from voting” and in I.S. A hand sticking out of doorway with one rain drop…. We have much to learn anew about treasuring our rights

    • Maren says:

      So very true. My mother voted till she died at 93 every small and large election, even when she had to go in the booth for people with blindness and have someone read the ballot to her.

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