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In equal balance justly weighed

Slouching toward Democracy

Where have all the wise men gone?

By Populist Demand

When urban and rural voters went separate ways


I have only what I remember, Merwin writes, resigned not to a dearth

but an omnium-gatherum of memories—whether amorphous and unloosed

from time or firmly grounded and undimmed as though he’s again

playing, in the re-entered past, the protagonist in the theatre of life.


From time to time mine ambush me as I walk down the street in full daylight. Some

delight, others devastate, breaking through the frozen crust to re-inflame

buried pain. Still others flit past my inner eye like short-lived visual migraines.

Odd fragments seek me out in dreams, like last night’s. I held a younger


woman in my arms and told her I had paid a terrible price for not having children, but

she, with her two, should go on and fulfill her ambition. We found ourselves inside

a house under renovation. Behind a demolished wall, a laundry

had been discovered that easily could, we conjectured, be joined


to the kitchen. Outside there were explosions in the night sky, fireworks

in celebration of a Russian holiday, the face of a czar shattering

into icy glitter. And all the while the woman from next door was setting out,

onto her front porch as on a stage, three bottles of pink-tinted water.


Ruth Roach Pierson taught women’s history, feminist and post-colonial studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto from 1980 to 2001, and European and women’s history at Memorial University of Newfoundland from 1970 to 1980. Since retiring she has published three poetry collections: Where No Window Was (BuschekBooks, 2002), Aide-Mémoire (BuschekBooks, 2007), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award in 2008, and Contrary (Tightrope Books, 2011). A fourth, Realignment, will appear from Palimpsest Press in 2015. She is the editor of the anthology of film poems I Found It at the Movies (Guernica Editions, 2014).