Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And again I am struck with love for the Republic

It's November 4. After nearly two years of campaigning, it's almost done. All over but the shouting, as they used to say. Here's a poem from the indispensable Jame Kenyon to mark the day. This comes from the poem, "American Triptych", which can be found in the book Collected Poems:

3 Potluck at the Wilmot Flat Baptist Church

We drive to the Flat on a clear November night. Stars and planets appear in the eastern sky, not yet in the west.

Voices rise from the social hall downstairs, the clink of silverware and plates, the smell of coffee.

As we walk into the room faces turn to us, friendly and curious. We are seated at the speakers' table, next to the town historian, a retired schoolteacher who is lively and precise.

The table is decorated with red, white, and blue streamers, and framed Time and Newsweek covers of the president, just elected. Someone has tied peanuts to small branches with red, white, and blue yarn, and set the branches upright in lumps of clay at the center of each table.

After the meal everyone clears food from the tables, and tables from the hall. Then we go to the sanctuary, where my husband reads poems from the pulpit.

One woman looks out the window continually. I notice the altar cloth, tasseled and embroidered in gold thread: Til I Come. There is applause after each poem.

On the way home we pass the white clapboard faces of the library and town hall, luminous in the moonlight, and I remember the first time I ever voted--in a township hall in Michigan.

That same wonderful smell of coffee was in the air, and I found myself among people trying to live ordered lives.... And again I am struck with love for the Republic.

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