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The Young Woman Who is President

July 30, 2008

calls the meeting to order; before her sit
rows of old women, grey hair
pinned in neat braids, or clipped short,
or folded into a bun, except in the last rows
wild, flowing over hunched backs,
over straight backs, grey-greeny manes.

she doesn’t know how she got elected. what
drove them to choose her. she does not have
large moles, varicose veins or even
any visible marks, her clothes
more appropriate for the boardroom, navy suit,
black pumps. she calls the meeting to order.

she knows when the women in the back speak up
(they have not yet) they will not speak in words.
their hands are vines. the veins are green and long,
they do not speak in words, their thoughts are leaves,
are branches, they will reach out from the back,
there is a noise already like the wind

in aspen trees, but growing slowly louder,
the rows are blurring as the women turn
toward the back with a sigh of joy. she calls
once more for order, order, the wind rises,
only the first row attends her till they turn
away, toward the trees. and she, too, reaches forth.

by Janet McCann

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  1. Angela France
    July 30, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Oh, I love this one – it has depths that reward re-reading.

  2. July 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    What a wonderful, intriguing story!

  3. Tom Sheehan
    July 31, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I heard the leaves this morning, the words they issued.
    Thanks to the writer, the picker, the chooser, the user.

  4. Christina Pacosz
    August 1, 2008 at 9:00 am

    After reading about the slaughter of 14 wolf pups by the Department of Fish and Game in Alaska (who deliberately and against state law gunned down the 14 adults of the pack via airplane then went to the den and finished off the pups with a bullet to the head), I want this young woman president more than ever. If she’d listen to those tree-women in the back row, then maybe….

  5. August 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I’m in with the “gray-greeny manes” at the end of the first stanza. Wow.
    The whole setup of this generational shift is lovely, the focus toward the organic (the detailed sounds of veins into vines…that green!) and how the older women begin to “reach out from the back” until at the end the president –“she, too, reaches forth.” Much to think on and re-read here. Utterly convincing.

  6. Karen Stromberg
    August 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Now that we’ve got a political slogan, who can we get to run?

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