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Wednesday, November 04, 2020


by Mary K O’Melveny

It is Election Day. The sun streams down

through emptied branches. Chilled air hovers

like a collective inhale. The exhale 

waits in the wings like a novice actor 

battling stage fright. Last night, wind pretended 

to be a train. We woke up thinking we 

had traveled far away and were waiting 

for good news to arrive at the station 

with morning’s mail. But we were still here 

facing down demons, stomachs tied to the tracks.


Last time we were set up at a polling

place in Florida. We wore our election

protection badges and hats, as we hoped 

for business. We were nervous. Little

did we know. Now, fear oozes through our veins

with every news bulletin and text.

The pandemic has kept us at home. Our

absentee ballots were mailed. Making calls

calls to others is as close as we’ve gotten

to a voting booth. We’ve been begging.


I turn to the rhythm of raking leaves.

Piles of them shift, rustle, crinkle, whisper.

I am in charge of the rake and the broom.

Most will follow my directions. How great

that feels. Predictability has all

but vanished outside my small radius of

oak, maple, chestnut, dogwood, beech, ash.

Later, I am moved to bake a cobbler.

Comfort food may get us through this long night.

Maybe many nights to come. And Woody Guthrie.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.