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Election Elegy, 2016: A Carpenter’s Prayer on a Walnut Bed in the Woods

Your walnut bed is beautiful and sleeps well. Art like yours brings gladness to a world of fear and sadness. We all have been sick since election night. I refuse to believe that hate rules the world, but I accept that its power rattles the foundation. I believe we’re born of bedrock goodness and grow smooth and slip into evil, or at least carelessness. Especially when emotions distract us, it’s easy for good ones to co-sign another one’s immoral action. 

Our society is cluttered with distraction, flashing lights and mindless violence. We earned our casino man for president because we fetish artifice, worship celebrity. Good fruit falls and rots in the shade and wasps take what we’d once liked to taste. Neon lights attract us like bugs at night. 

My prayer is for men in power: Please don’t privatize our public parks. Pretend page 21 of the Republican platform was never printed. Fine: Deck the White House in fake gold plastic, stamp its walls with corporate advertisements. Please let people freely wander and wonder in the Wilderness. Please leave This Land be, as Guthrie says, our land and your land simultaneously. I believe we’ll all find peace if we listen to the quiet in the woods as ancestral seekers once did, as the prophets do. We’ll make good from nature’s offering. Use felled trees to whittle things, sand out the grain to see its purity. We’ll make art as we seek to explain why we are. 

I believe we’re here for good reason, but our pride tricks our eyes from clear sight. I was proud to vote against the Klan (David Duke lost his Senate race) and was proud that Hope would win. But the Grand Wizard delivered votes atop the ticket I hadn’t counted. Blind in pride, I believed more than a simple majority shared my sense of decency. 

Electoral colleges, though, show parents fail to switch channels when told “the children are watching,” and we all know we shouldn’t. We gather round the lit screen like an old-time fire, let its fakeness enlighten us. We’re silent and they scream. The screen glow warms us. Let the “others” burn, we think, as long as it ain’t me. Oh well, we say, it’s just something on TV. 

But I forgot the power of fear and anger, primal emotions as natural as a smile. We’re just animals who learned to think, create and innovate. Bullhorns distract us today in mass broadcasts of TV-streamed “reality.” 

Earbuds planted, but nothing’s grown. Neighborly conversation ripens and falls unknown. Let’s walk in the woods and litter our pride for the river to clean. Water—please. We’ll sit quiet in the dirt and feel the blood in the earth. Still, we’ll kneel listening for peace the whole day long beneath a canopy of leaves. 

Dwelling together by night before a small fire’s good light, we’ll share its true heat. We’ll trade face-lit stories and inspire a past stranger in the dark. Our desires are similar and no border splits us. 

We’ll swap stories in the forest on a long meander. Let’s whittle something worthwhile, an envelope-opener for an old lady we love or a bat for a boy who’ll swing in the big leagues. We’ll build a walnut bed and lie there, dream and sleep in peace in the woods away from TV. Reminded of true light, we’ll remember commonality and embrace our reality.

I believe we can heal if it’s agreed we’ll calm the clamor, bury the axe and hang the hammer. A reminder of peace is what we need. It lives far from greed, past green hills and into the trees. 

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