Ted Kooser: American life in poetry

It's a good thing to have a poem about voting in the week of the election, and here's a fine one by Judith Harris, who lives in Washington, D.C.

My Mother Goes to Vote

We walked five blocks

to the elementary school,

my mother's high heels

crunching through playground gravel.

We entered through a side door.

Down the long corridor,

decorated with Halloween masks,

health department safety posters —

we followed the arrows

to the third grade classroom.

My mother stepped alone

into the booth, pulling the curtain behind her.

I could see only the backs of her

calves in crinkled nylons.

A partial vanishing, then reappearing

pocketbook crooked on her elbow,

our mayor's button pinned to her lapel.

Even then I could see —to choose

is to follow what has already

been decided.

We marched back out

finding a new way back down streets

named for flowers

and accomplished men.

I said their names out loud, as we found

our way home, to the cramped house,

the devoted porch light left on,

the customary meatloaf.

I remember, in the classroom converted

into a voting place—

there were two mothers, conversing,

squeezed into the children's desk chairs.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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journaljim wrote on November 06, 2012 at 11:11 am
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I appreciate this feature in each Sunday's paper. Thank you, News-Gazette, for continuing to run it.