Lit Issue 2017 | Poetry

Chicago Spring, 1983

Turtel Onli

How the royal sunrise buttons gleamed: Harold Washington for mayor!
Voting in Logan Square church basement, the line surged out the door.

On St. Patrick’s Day, after the parade I got my button.
Pinned the blue endorsement next to my emerald shamrock; the campaign worker chuckled.

One time I passed Roosevelt University, and two silver-haired professors high-fived my button—strangers unified by hope—white but wanting to make amends for our color, acknowledge segregation injustice, embrace Harold’s vision of fairness,
from Englewood and Chatham to Rogers Park, from Austin and Uptown to Lake Shore Drive, from garden apartments to bungalows and Gold Coast mansions.

Morning rush hour after the primary, our sardine-packed subway car stalled, and a rich baritone voice rang out in the tunnel.
The CTA worker proclaimed Sun-Times and Tribune headlines:
“Harold Washington has won the primary! We have overcome!”
His words, a prayer, cast light through belowground darkness.

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