Mary Ann Honaker
January 6, 2021
I’d settled in with a jigsaw & CNN
to watch the counting of electoral votes;
a dull process, one of which I’d not
been aware of until this year.
The papers were regular in form
& order, & for what reason
does the gentleman from <state>
rise? The puzzle was all wrong:
a tree where there was no tree
on the box, too many flowers.
I couldn’t find the corner pieces.
Nancy flinched only a little
when the odd popping noises
interrupted her steady scripted speech.
It was all wrong: suddenly the feed
from inside the Capitol was gone,
& instead people scaling the building,
fists and flagpoles interrupting windows.
Mom entered with a dining room chair
into my little room & sat, said
“This is not American,” said,
“Where are the police?”
& my heart was hopping
to a dance floor beat, I said,
“I think I’m going to throw up,”
& honestly believed I might.
Then someone in Nancy Pelosi’s
chair, “O God where is she?”
I squealed, palmed my own
mouth as I’d imagined some man
palming hers. Last I heard
the august lady was hiding
in her office. Minutes pass.
No police. At last the word:
somewhere in the secret tunnels
under Washington, armed men
guarded Congress. That day
I forgot to take my medicine:
morning, midday, & night.
I nearly forgot to eat. I stayed
in my seat until the chanting
of the sacred words ended
around 4am. By then I knew
the puzzle was not the one
pictured on the box,
& I’d have to guess my way,
watch as a scene emerged
I could not possibly expect.
—Submitted on 01/17/2021 to the erstwhile Poems in the Aftermath series
Mary Ann Honaker is the author of Becoming Persephone (Third Lung Press, 2019) and It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in Bear Review, Drunk Monkeys, Euphony, Juked, Little Patuxent Review, and other journals. Honaker holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She lives in Beaver, W.Va.
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Editor’s Note: The series title A River Sings is borrowed from “On the Pulse of Morning,” the poem read by Maya Angelou at the first inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993.