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POEM: Solidarity


We were in one of those restaurants that had decided
the 70s were plenty modern enough, thank you,
and had kept their fake wood paneling for thirty years.
One by one the hospital workers filed in,
dropping their folded pieces of paper into a box
while the union staff and the bosses watched.
It was my first campaign. My first time seeing
people decide whether to take back control of their lives.
Earlier that afternoon I’d been on the phone for hours,
making sure people came out to vote, reminding them
why it mattered, why they’d ever wanted a union.
As the sun set and darkness came on, the line slowed.
Finally it was over. The time limit was up. All that was left
was to dump out the ballot box and answer the question
we’d been working months to pose.
The counting felt like an eternity. Then:
A victory – the workers had voted to form a union.
I ran outside and burst into tears, then called Julie,
the organizer who’d trained me, to tell her the news.
I could hear cheers from the restaurant.
They got louder as I headed back inside.

/ / /

25 July 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem #4 in a new series, 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

Published in 50 Days Till 50 Years Labor movement My poems Poetry


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