All I Needed Was Some Small Light

Nurse Lauren Underwood stuns by winning a mostly white GOP district


I write this late Tuesday night (American time) as election returns seem to bear out what most of the polls predicted: the Democrats gained control of the House while the Republicans retained the Senate. Given how traumatic the past couple of years have been for people like me, acquiring the means to check Donald Trump is a huge victory.

I feel like a patient who, after wrestling mightily with an illness all through the night, awakes in the morning weak but still alive. The journey back to complete health will be long and arduous—there is no leaping out of bed—but at least there will be a future.

Lucille Clifton captures such feelings in “the man who killed the bear.” Only after her father dies does she begin to come to terms with his molesting her when she was a little girl. She realizes that she just needs a small sliver of hope to build a new life for herself:

the man who killed the bear

only after the death
of the man who killed the bear,
after the death of the coalminer’s son,
did i remember that the moon
also rises, coming heavy or thin
over the living fields, over
the cities of the dead;
only then did i remember how she
catches the sun and keeps most of him
for the evening that surely will come;
and it comes.
only then did i know that to live
in the world all that i needed was
some small light and know that indeed
i would rise again and rise again to dance.

Though there have been disappointments, especially the defeat of two inspiring black gubernatorial candidates in the deep south and a charismatic progressive senate candidate in Texas, over 100 women were elected nationwide, including Muslim, Native American, Latina, African American, and LBGTQ women. That’s more than “some small light.”

Furthermore, the fact that Democrats pulled in a projected 9+% more votes than Republicans indicates that the Trump resistance is alive and well. Many of the president’s GOP enablers that made him appear an unstoppable juggernaut are now gone.

We will dance again.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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