It’s 2 a.m. in Columbia Heights. I slept for a few hours then woke up and listened to Dick Gordon’s The Story on the radio. He interviewed New York poet Rachel Zucker about her 100 Poems, 100 Days project. She describes it as follows:
The day before the inauguration we sent out a call to poets we admire to write poems that respond, however loosely, to the presidency, the nation, the government or the current political climate. More than one hundred American poets responded immediately. The first 100 poets were each assigned one of President Obama’s first hundred days in office, and each will write a poem reflecting on the state of the nation and the world on that day. A new poem is posted every day.
(It’s the kind of spontaneous out-pouring of art that just didn’t seem to happen under President Bush and Vice President Cheney.)
Here’s Rachel’s poem for Day 16, but go read them all, then write your own:
Dear Mr. President, I Thought You Should Know
It’s February and the wind’s so bitter
my toddler, in the front pack, slides his hands
under my armpits and buries his face in my scarf.
I’m sorry to report that some people are still nasty
on the number 1 subway and my son’s teacher
has acute leukemia. I don’t expect you to change
everything or for everything to change. But every day
it does. My older boys, with their heavy school bags,
struggle to remain standing as we jolt along
these old, old tracks. Someone offers me a seat
but I can’t reach it. Someone else won’t let me past.
Later, I’ll nurse the baby, write some poems, and wait
to hear if the swab I twirled inside my cheek predicts
my bone marrow might save anyone. Until then, I’m held
upright by the press of your citizens, the city’s embrace.
Rachel Zucker (New York, NY) is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, The Bad Wife Handbook. Along with Arielle Greenberg, Zucker edited the anthology Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections. She teaches poetry, is a labor doula, and is studying to be a childbirth educator.