Poem | The Poem I Wrote Two Days After the Election Was Called

Jessica Grenbaum

That morning broke just as beautifully as the two
days before. Having celebrated—the shouts called us out
from wherever we were—we did dance in the streets,
the glee was collective and all out, it didn’t leave us
at any point, and any wa-hoo set off a wave of them
down the block or in the Long Meadow of Prospect Park,
where I met friends so we could sit together, distanced
but happy, listening to the intermittent cheers like
surf crashing. And in the satisfied quiet of the next day,
Jed and I drove to the country and paddled to the middle
of the still lake and sat with our eyes closed facing
the late afternoon’s sun. And that evening we visited
friends in their long yard, there were eight of us,
each couple seated like spaced compass points around
the center, where joy seemed to spool, collecting itself
in darkness. Back up the mountain, the constellations
shone as if the optometrist had slipped on the right lens,
and in the middle of the night the moon was bright enough
to light my way outside the cabin. Peace settled in.
The owls were loud. And the next morning,
the morning two days after the election was called,
the day broke just as cloudless as the two days before,
and I walked down to the water thinking, this is a day
to see how clearly poetry throws itself on the world again
and everywhere, the whole place like the gentle-most
mosh pit, and because the late autumn sun rose more
to the right than in the summer, I sat on the wobbly raft,
pulled up close to the shore for winter, to see it better,
to write a poem in celebration of how you can see poems
in the joy casting itself about, and I remember recognizing
the great friendship between the sun and its changing reflection
on the lake, like the combinations and re-combinations
of the dancing crowds, but without the freneticism because
it was established, it was day two, and I remember ending
the poem in some way that felt quite right at the time
(maybe with a flourish), with the surprise that always
accompanies writing about happiness, and then not pulling
the raft close enough to the land before stepping off
and falling in while trying to throw the laptop like a frisbee to
safety, and diving in the cold water with my glasses on
to retrieve it, but too late, and now this is what drips in relief.

Jessica Greenbaum’s most recent book of poems is Spilled and Gone (Pittsburgh, 2019). She is the co-editor of the first poetry Haggadah, the Mishkan HaSeder, (CCAR Press, 2021), and a recipient of awards from the Poetry Society of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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