Katie Peterson
Filibuster to Delay the Spring

Man my mother never
voted for, I hear you lived 
in the basement
apartment, underneath 
mine, in Somerville,
Crocuses, then daffodils, 
and the usual volunteers
of natives, even 
the groundcover blooms. 
Health care is a right
and marriage a gateway
to what most 
people want at three
in the morning. Thank you
for believing in
global warming. I love 
how you look at your wife. 
Let’s talk about airport 
security. The last
time I went through
an agent pulled the clip
from my hair himself. 
An abalone shell 
from the coast of California
still shines pink 
the color of a labia
in Massachusetts, where 
Dickinson loved
the circle so much
it became an American 
landscape. The day I 
realized my mother
would never vote
for you, I taught
a classroom a poem
by Robinson Jeffers: a beautiful
woman puts on 
the skin of a lion, and runs
into the cypresses on a rainy
evening, after her aged
father has died
so she will get shot 
by the son 
of her brutal husband. 
When I call my brother
he doesn’t pick up his
cell and my father
goes to the ordination of 
a priest for pleasure, 
on a Saturday, 
with a new wife. 
Man of state, how did 
you study, late
into the night, or at a diner,
the whole day a list
of errands? People talk
about the economy, what is it,
a paycheck or happiness? 
What I can’t buy
the dead I buy my friend
whose child shook 
with seizures
all last fall, and the crease
in the peach tulips edged in golden-
rod yellow let in a bit
of light, then a streak
of fade and though the bouquet
may have lasted less
time she’ll love it more
for opening like that. 
Into the ground, under a pine, 
chosen for its thick
root potentially, in another
generation, upending
not hers but the next
door stone, and even in that purchase 
we worried about ourselves and not
another, took note of and 
moved straight over their loss, though 
the tree might decide to hold
its ground and go deeper, not out, 
she and you 
became President. Obama,
I am closer now
if I never meet you or stand
in the same room 
with you than I’ll ever be
again to my mother. 
The air you breathe
parts molecules and circulates towards
my body, towards the state 
where I pay my rent.  
The waste you make enters 
the stream of general waste, and she
past waste makes nothing.

Found In Volume 42, No. 05
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  • katie peterson
Katie Peterson
About the Author

Katie Peterson is the author of two new collections of poetry, both published this September: Permission (New Issues / Western Michigan University Press) and The Accounts (University of Chicago). She is Professor of the Practice at Tufts University.