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Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Poem: The Stone

I was restless this afternoon on the eve of the inauguration. I had been talking to a friend about meeting for drinks at 5 p.m. - 5 p.m. at the latest, she said. She was so anxious about the upcoming coronation (as she calls the inauguration) and the Trump presidency that she had upped her Xanax and was ready for a drink on top of that. (I did point out that this combo was not a good idea although having a drink at 5 p.m. did sound like a good idea to me.)

I thought that sitting down and writing something about the inauguration, the coronation, the four years to come, anything, might distract me, so I tracked down my poetry notebook. What I found was a poem about my anxiety about the inauguration. I had written the poem on Dec. 7, 2016, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and then forgotten about it.

While an interior design blog is hardly the place for political poems, this is the public space that I have easily available now on the eve of the inauguration.

So here is my poem for the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump:


The Stone

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?          
– W. B. Yeats

I am growing a stone in my belly.
Every morning at breakfast, I feed it
a steady diet of news, and it grows
heavier and heavier. The dread is building
inside me as we move toward this inauguration.
Every day I read a new announcement,
a prediction of how this demagogue
can turn the clock back, send us reeling into the past.

Pearl Harbor was bombed 75 years ago today.
Later Japanese Americans were rounded up,
taking only what they could carry
and sent off to internment camps,
leaving friends, homes and businesses behind.
This was one of America’s lowest hours.
Now the demagogue is talking of registries
of Muslims, of bans based on national origin.

Today I heard his voice for the first time
since the election – in a replay
of his answer to a primary debate question
about his calling women “fat pigs, dogs and slobs.”
He said we don’t have the time
for “political correctness” (applause) –
besides it was all said in fun.

The video of him talking
about sexually assaulting women
was still to come. It didn’t matter.
As the demagogue said, he could walk into a crowd,
shoot someone and not lose votes.
My chest is so tight I can hardly breathe.

The inauguration is just over a month away.
After that, I’ll find a hammer to shatter this stone,
shatter this stone inside of me,
spit the bits out and begin four years
of pushing forward, not rolling backwards.

December 7, 2016

        Pamela Portwood