Poem: How Life in Long Island Has Changed in the Trump Era
Author's Note: This summer, like many others I’m out on Long Island for a few weeks. It’s much the same as always: vast sky, astonishing light, and sunscreened, chirping children. There are differences too: It’s hotter than I remember it; there is less rain, and it comes in surprising downpours; it’s more expensive, if that’s possible to imagine; and a surprising number of houses are for sale, but don’t sell. Renters are more Airbnb, as you might expect. People seem to be on a vacation from politics.
All these are indications of a future that is not what we are used to and impossible to predict despite the inevitable guesswork. What is palpable about today and tomorrow is the absence of brown people showing up in trucks to mow lawns, and bus restaurants. You don’t see migrant workers sitting at picnic tables taking a break. Employers and clients lament their absence, which is the presence of Trump on Long Island. It’s heartbreaking and mind-numbing. A friend reminded me of Brecht: In dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.
And poetry too.
Out on the shore you can see the trees miss
Pepe, sap thinning by the day.
Hydrangeas and sunflowers are broken hearted
Maria too left without a word.
The flowers are afraid to console each other
Now that differences matter.
The magistrate said, forgiving my speeding ticket,
You sure look American. We both knew
What he meant.
Phantom limbs whack at the crab grasses
Driftwood figures trim the hedges.
Like flowers sinking in a river
Thirsting for rain. Out on the eastern shore
Of Long Island.