Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016

Photo of many colorful stickers that say "I Voted"

I Spoke to Haywood’s Grandma

in Politics/U.S. by

I spoke to Haywood’s grandma today.
I don’t know Haywood, and I don’t really
know his grandma, either, but she was
the one who answered. I’m making
get-out-the-vote calls to Georgia.
If the person on our list isn’t available,
we’re supposed to mark that down
and move on to the next number. But
after telling me her grandson isn’t home,
she asks to whom is she speaking. My
mother didn’t raise me with manners,
but I have enough sense to know
that when a voice like that asks who
you are, you answer.

My name is Lea and I’m a volunteer for
Reverend Warnock’s Senate campaign,
I say.
I can’t tell if she can tell I’m not from
Georgia, or that I live in Montana now,
after growing up in DC, or that I came for
the sky and stayed for the meadowlarks.

I tick the boxes: Reverend Warnock can
count on Haywood’s grandma’s vote.
Yes, she has a plan. She’s going in person.
Early, she says. She wants to be sure.
I picture Haywood’s grandma standing
in line all day. Here in Montana, there are
no lines. Our country’s history could be
distilled into that divide: line versus no line.

I’m shy, an introvert. I happily spend
my days alone, shifting winds and
penetrating light my only companions.
But I love my voters. I love their firm,
Oh, yes. They will speak, and I find
myself leaping up from my chair,
no old-time phone cord holding
me back. Instead of reading the
scripted lines, I say, If we work together,
I think we can do this.
In addition to
not having been taught manners,
I was also not taught about working
together. I wasn’t taught to believe,
to hope, to dream. I wasn’t taught
how to speak or how to love.

Oh, yes, says Haywood’s grandma. She
tells me that working together has always
been the way. And, she says, we must
have patience. She laughs, and I hear
in her laugh that having patience is no
laughing matter.

We talk some more, and I admit I’m not
the most patient person—I have all this
nervous energy and probably should make
more calls. She laughs again—I hear
no hard edge and I am used to hearing
hard edges—and then she blesses me.
Not a bless-your-heart-you-poor-idiot
kind of blessing, which I surely deserve,
but a hug-through-the-line kind, and I
understand that I am, in this moment,
truly blessed because I have received her
lesson, which is to keep on, regardless.

 

________

Lea Page’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, Stonecoast Journal, Pithead Chapel, High Desert Journal and Slipstream. She lives in rural Montana with her husband and a small circus of semi-domesticated animals.

Photo by Element5 Digital.

________

What the polls say about Georgia’s Senate runoffs
[FiveThirtyEight]

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