a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
The church bells toll six. At seven, the polls will close. I want to walk our neighborhood streets, golden with fading light and fallen leaves, to pretend I live in a charmed circle of land, a city that elects Democrats. The rest of Tennessee sends Republicans everywhere.
This year, like the kid who scoops up all the Halloween candy, our Republican legislature splintered Nashville into three parts, gerrymandering each part into small town and rural Republican strongholds. My former student and current state senator, Heidi Campbell, is running in 5th District. I can’t vote for her; we’ve been moved to 7th District. But I’ve told my neighbors, still in 5th District, how wonderful she is and how she – unlike her Trump-endorsed, Koch-supported opponent – is funded by small, local donors. And I can vote (and did) for Odessa Kelley, an articulate Black activist from North Nashville.
I want to walk. Instead, I layer spaghetti sauce, pasta, mozzarella, eggplant, provolone, and more spaghetti sauce and slide the casserole into a slow oven. I set an elegant table with real cloth napkins and candles to be lit when my husband comes home from twelve hours of chatting with voters. A long day, maybe a futile day, but Democrats in Tennessee need all the help we can muster. Steve works polls. I phone, write, and squeeze money from our food budget with soups, chilies, and lasagna.
Almost 7:30. Time to heat the sourdough, pour a little red wine. The front door creaks, and there’s Steve, tired and hungry.
“Smells good,” he says. “Want to watch returns through our toes after supper and drift off to sleep? Caleb invited us to watch from headquarters, but I said no.”
“Watch them trounce us?” I snarl. “I’m not sure I even want the live returns.”
“Oh, baby,” he says, taking me in his arms. “There’s no them. Remember that. We’re all us…just, some of us need to watch a little less Fox News.”
Election tallies start tonight, but they’ll stretch into tomorrow. Soon we’ll go to bed. Tonight’s a time to dream.
Alice Sanford lives and writes (mostly poems and advocacy letters for League of Women Voters and Sierra Club) in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has appeared in ArtLife, Santa Barbara Review, Stone Poetry Journal, WordPeace, and similar journals.