Slow-Cooked Sentences

Poem and place for hard times

Rachael Conlin Levy

I wash the breakfast dishes and listen to the latest allegations of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and cry. I pendulum wildly, riveted by the latest news development or in full retreat from the insult and abuse. I am witness and survivor. A pipeline of grief and pain fuels my rage.

Just as immediately, the sobs end. Pierced by profane remarks, I write the random politician, then another and another, warning that their comments corrupt trust and shatter confidence in a system I consider sacred.

To vote is to enter into a covenant to govern and be governed. An election is an agreement, writes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” that a politician’s ambitions are “first and always, linked to the people.”

Inside of me a storm brews and my heart darkens because the people and things I love are threatened. I wake at night sweating, head pounding. Throwing back the heavy blanket, I seek an open window where I fret over thoughts. Eventually, I notice the softness of the air against my skin, watch an empty street stay empty, and grow tired enough to return to bed. But the anger remains. No amount of recognizing, acknowledging, or noting has made it dissipate. I’ve channeled the rawness into a regular correspondence with my representatives and others.

Dear Sen. Graham, I’m responding with disappointment to your characterization of the sexual assault allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a “drive-by shooting” … 

Dear Sen. Grassley, You are in a pivotal position to demonstrate that our country has grown in wisdom, compassion and equality with a decision to postpone the vote and make the inquiry into this accusation public … 

Dear Sen. Murkowski, Thank you for your leadership and independence today …

Dear Sen. Collins, Please stand firm in the face of pressure and approve a Supreme Court justice whose moral authority and integrity are beyond reproach …

I cannot reach the lawmakers, nor quiet the din. Cautionary emails turn to ether, and anger persists. So now I’m angry with my anger. The ridiculousness of it all is laughable. But I’m not laughing because I’m running. With clenched fists and burning lungs, I charge to the edge of my earth, which sounds grander than the two miles it takes to reach the cliff overlooking the sailboats on Puget Sound, a distance appreciated by overtaxed lung and leg but not my robust and vigorous rage.

Worn out, worn down, the solitary path and the poem comfort me, and this week it was a neglected ravine and Rilke: If the world has ceased to hear you,/ say to the silent earth: I flow./ To the rushing water, speak: I am. I step off the sidewalk and into forest. I pass a tree tagged with graffiti, another with the word “hell” carved into its trunk as I wander deeper into scruffy urban wilderness. A twist in the path uncovers signs that, like me, someone else recently found refuge here. I retrace my steps until I am again at the forest’s edge. Quiet friend who has come so far,/ feel how your breathing makes more space around you. There I stay to watch sunlight dance upon spider web and stream before sliding below the horizon, then I return home.



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