It was a quiet morning in our house. The radio, which usually begins to hum at daybreak, sat in a timeout. The words coming out of it were too much to bear. After we sent the kids off to school I walked in the woods with my husband rather than listen to the inaugural address. As an American, it doesn’t seem right not to watch, but I just can’t.
Later in the afternoon, I peeked at the news and read the text of his “American Carnage” address. I wrote this poem in response.
“Draft” is part of the title. I can change the words if I want. I can edit and revise endlessly, which is what I wish I could do for what happened in our nation today. I want to erase the words of fear and anger spoken by our new president, and replace them with words that express a vision of unity and hope.
His words echoed around the world and will echo in my heart for longer than I wish to hold them. It helped to write my own words today. Tomorrow, words become action. I will march with my husband and friends, in the hope that one day soon we will look back on this time and see we were wrong – that this time really was a “draft,” a short-lived diversion in the history of our nation. An exercise to awaken the masses to the polished piece (let’s pray, peace) that lies ahead.
Inauguration Morning 2017 (a draft)
The clock radio went off at 6 a.m.
as it always does. Top-of-the-hour
news. We turned it off, as we never do.
We rose, let the dog out, started the coffee
brewing. Rolled the trash cans to the curb.
We cracked two eggs into a frying pan, poured cereal
and juice. Kissed our daughters goodbye, unsure
if they’d be watching at school. Unsure
if we wanted them to. Torn, between
the importance of the lessons I’ve preached—
that my Veteran father preached to me—
on the work of Democracy,
and the threat it faces this day.
Fifteen minutes before, my husband and I
set out for the woods. Walked God’s Earth
as he walked Man’s path to the Capitol dais,
set his hands upon Lincoln’s holy bible. Swore
to uphold our Constitution. We placed our faith
in the trees and each other, and the winter light
as it broke through the dim Northwest canopy. Rain
began to fall not on us, but him, nearly 3,000 miles away
as he spoke his first words to our divided nation. No
“what can we do for our country.” No
“beacon of Democracy around the world.” No
“hope,” but these words instead:
trapped, rusted out, scattered tombstones,
stolen, robbed and unrealized. “This
American carnage stops right here and stops
right now,” he said in a bellowing staccato. I fear
it’s only begun.
(c) Julie Deutscher, 2017