Postcard from a Polling Station in Detroit

There’s still autumn to be had––starlings over the highway and wedges of Canada geese arrowing southward. The cottonwood trees are bare and from my apartment window, I can once again see my neighbors––huge auto baron mansions––and, farther on, the verdigris spire of The Fisher Building. Last year, summer ran forever, then slammed into winter. The leaves dropped in a week. Then it snowed into mid-April. This year so far, everything seems to be on schedule.

I walked to the polling station this morning under lowering clouds. The wind came up and leaves streamed off the wet trees. Both candidates for governor believe in climate change, which feels like progress, though not enough.

Climate––the prevailing atmospheric conditions.

At a writing conference last spring––or it should have been spring––we joked that you could make a drinking game out of political caution: take a shot every time someone uses the phrase “current political climate.” No one wanted to say that the country had sundered, that many of us didn’t even want to broach the topic of odd weather with our family because weather had become political issue.

I voted today. It took thirty minutes. They gave me a sticker. I stuck it to my jacket and took a selfie for Instagram. Halfway through the walk home, a spatter of rain kicked up. The air smelled of leaf mould and damp.

Dozens of us waiting in line at the poll. The mood was good. There was a range of ages and different races and we all laughed and joked together, happy to have the chance to participate in something bigger than ourselves. More than the inked-in bubbles for governor and gerrymandering reform on my ballot, that gave me hope that we can fix the climate, the climates. It’ll take that sort of casual kindness and goodwill to heal a broken planet and to sew up the rends and tears in the fabric. I saw it today and want to live into it. It’s not only the world we must save but ourselves.


Matthew Landrum rock the vote.jpg
Matthew Landrum holds an MFA from Bennington College. His translations of Jóanes Nielsen have appeared here in Cagibi and also in Image Journal, Modern Poetry in Translation, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He is author of the chapbook The Homeland (Cold Hub Press)translations from the German of Katharina Müller. He lives in Detroit.



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