“On the Election” by Christine Potter

Christine Potter


How long, dear Savior, oh how long
shall this glad hour delay?
—Jeremiah Ingalls, ‘Northfield’

I am afraid and I am resolved. The sky is cloudy again
and the leaves have sponged up the light left behind.
It’s getting dark but there is no darkness in the trees.

My sister told me she was hired once as an editor
because the man interviewing her believed her capable
of talking someone out of a Turkish jail. I couldn’t do that.

I’d just see it coming: the folly, the arrest, the clamor
of a dusty street I can barely imagine. Some people say
I worry too much. Before the last Presidential election,

I saw two men, feet planted firm in front of a church
at the top of a hill where two busy roads intersected.
The men held banners longer than they were tall and

waved them out over traffic like a curse that was sure
of itself. Fly swift around ye wheels of time! We will
decide what we will decide and then it will be winter.

It’s dusk now, so I watch by the light of what’s left:
one last summer-red spray of roses lost in the garden’s
collapse: marigolds, nasturtiums, a sparrow pecking seed.

from Poets Respond
November 6, 2018


Christine Potter: “I’m responding to about a zillion articles I’ve read in newspapers lately that say pretty much what this one does. Generally, I’d rather read poetry than tea leaves, but I’m on edge as much as anyone who cares about the fate of her country. Also, I got gut-punched when the church choir I sing with responded to the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh by singing ‘Northfield,’ a very old piece of Sacred Harp music by Jeremiah Ingalls. The two things rubbing together in my nervous heart set off a poem.” (web)

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