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Fall 2005

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The Lifting
November 2, 2004
Thomas R. Smith

All day I did the work the campaign
required: typed lists, called voters,
canvassed, held a sign on the freeway
overpass for the evening commuters.
Maybe it was the strength of knowing
we were flooding the polling places,
our millions of flames blazing up
in a brushfire of democracy,
or maybe it was the communal
eros of finding so many sudden friends
elbow to elbow at folding tables,
or the soups and pies brought in to feed
volunteers, or maybe, when I finally
pulled myself away to go home at six,
with the exit polls looking good,
looking better than good, it was the lush
melancholy of Pablo Casals,
old fighter for Catalan independence,
whose recording of Dvorak's Cello
Concerto in B Minor I slipped into
the CD player before lying down
on the bed to rest—maybe it was all
of these things, or none of them,
but for an hour or more I began
to feel physically four years' weight
lifting from us, for an hour or more
believed our eyes would have to make
the adjustment to less darkness and
more light, our bodies to less gravity
and more buoyancy, our conscience
to less guilt and more justice,
our hearts to less bitterness and more joy.
As the transparent wash of music
swelled over me in the blue twilight,
I could sense the presence of something like
mercy, the branching-off of a different
pathway of possibility, another
world luminous in a vision of restored
honor, peace, balance, and sanity.
All this I experienced in a dream-
like suspension, an hour or more, free
to cross the border into a new
country as Casals poured out his fierce and
tender intelligence in the November
dusk, a relief nearly unbearable, and
which I wanted badly to trust, for the future
I fell asleep that evening almost convinced
was within our reach, a future that is still
coming toward us, delayed though not denied.