When They Go
I take back my house
missing and pushing the girls
out at once – go! give me space, stay!
I need your sweet and smart and beautiful
there is no one on the roof no one in my car
no one sleeping in my bed or on my couch or spare
bedroom, no paintings and socks and dry cleaner stubs no
steamy mirror no Mac products spread about the couch counters
come back no go clean up no leave it sort through it no let’s keep it
my girls my life my walking sticks water witching there you are
again go be brilliant and brave and ambitious and teach me
everything you learn I so want to reap the benefits
of your brains beauty your wit talk to me never
stop visiting or talking talk me to sleep
on my final day tell me the best part
and the worst tell me you bake
better and write with zeal
love more deeply, think
more clearly and at last
remember to let me
smell a nutmeg cut
in half and garlic
sautéed in butter
lemon zest set
in sugar then
tell me your
Bridget blames no one. Whether they voted or didn’t, no matter which candidate received their vote. “It isn’t about blaming.” Her day-after Trump’s jolting win was full of watching 12-year-olds behave more violently than teachers said they had ever seen. A fight broke out in the bathroom. “Everyone was so tense,” she said, her own voice obvious in its effort to be calm.
Riana fiercely blames both those who stayed away from the polls, or who voted third party. “He won because of them, it’s their fault.” Her studies and her professors in political science and public policy have assured her that the numbers can be reliable indicators for predicting elections, measuring behavior. Though, she freely admits, they used numbers, for predictions anyway, from limited audiences. “Just like Truman Dewey,” she explains, when they only polled people who had landlines. In the late 1940s, she emphasized. They continued to do the same, in 2016, landlines, still, and other limitations that hadn’t been factored into these promised-to-be true predictions.
Both girls desire and work hard towards the same world definition. One where the Civil Rights Act has meaning, the Affordable Care Act is improved, bathrooms are not political, and pussies are not boastfully grabbed by the president of the most powerful country on this planet.
A world where nail-biting fear is most often lived out in movie theaters or roller coasters. Not taking a pee in a bar. Or walking arm in arm with your best friend. Or getting an abortion. The lightning bolt of this election is unprecedented, and horrifying. Big, screaming, city-wide protests and blaring messages zip across social media. Like an elevator that lost its cables.
My day was book-ended, as it always is, even if only in my heart, by my girls’ voices. Riana’s sobs at 6am. How can this happen? Bridget’s soft voice, the one she uses when most rattled, describing children fighting as she wondered if she should go out and join the protest in New York streets.
It is the girls that made me find center through the day as I found myself unable to describe the feeling. Not as devastated as 9-11. Not as angry as Gore v. Bush. But equally astounded. And empty somehow. Defeated. Afraid. A lifetime of dedication to equal rights, women’s rights, safe streets, health freedom. The constitution.
Suddenly the constitution seems unfettered. The flag hanging by a thread. Oh, dramatic metaphors, I admit, but useful in explaining how people are feeling. And for all the messages out there in social media, that we are America, we are strong, we will get through this, and for all the truth in those statements, there is a truth that can not be denied.
“Get through,” too often means someone will suffer. Someone will lose. Their rights, their homeland, their safety, their health. “Get through,” does not mean roller coaster from which you easily exit, the fear just a game. Passengers get off and go their merry way. No. Get through means only that there is an end. But with the rights that are threatened by President-elect Trump, I fear not all the passengers will get off, or will get off whole, or will even make it through to the end.
Immigrants waiting desperately for the bureaucracy of citizenship will be turned away, no matter the conditions they face in the country they deserted. Women will take it upon themselves to end pregnancies forced upon them, dangerously and risking their own lives. Unemployed who believe that their careers will suddenly be re-vitalized will be sorely unemployed in four years, the rabbit may not be pulled out of the hat.
I want to say, “Go for it.” Run the country red as designed by one narcissistic TV star. Have at it for four years and see what happens. And say so in a threatening tone as if to say I dare you, knowing full well you will fail. But the thing is, fail or succeed, there are people’s lives that will be harmed.
I suppose the Republicans and conservatives and Trumpets would say the same would happen if Hillary had won, the same would happen if there was a completely Democratic congress and executive branch. But it is not true. For all she may be, for any wrongs she may have committed, she did not advocate hatred, misogyny, violence, and worse. Democrats did not take the jobs in the Rust Belt, nor did they cause the Great Recession. Abortions will happen no matter who is in office, it is just a matter as to whether they will kill the mother or not. Lesbians and queers will still walk the earth as they always have, but they will do so in fear and without protection.
And worse, Trump is not outside of the establishment he promises to destroy, the “rigged” election he predicted. He is a part of that wealthy arrogant upper crust. But a different part of it, the business world, and he had a guide, his father, his family. Now he is in the political zone, and he has no map or route.
As I have always done, since my life was blessed with motherhood, I return to the simple act of parenting for solace. Teach your children well. I have. Raise your daughters strong, I did. And now, the three of us, understanding this whole sorry state of things very differently, and while walking on vary different paths, will arrive at the same place. As one family, united. The three of us. One destination.