What It’s Like Being President

by July 6, 2015 0 comments

It is strange, this work of being a man
And a nation. When I took the oath six
Years back, I became not just me but this
Country. I was its face. I would fly to
Other lands and my mere presence, and our
Flag, stood for USA. Until there was

A new president, for better or for
Worse, I was us. This is one thing abroad
And another here. Away, people in
Foreign countries hold back a bit, give you
The benefit of not knowing for sure.
At home there are no doubts. Millions did

Not vote for me and never would, and the
Millions who did mean nothing. We love
Our country so much we forget others
Might. Voting for not-my-guy is the wrong
Vote, not just thinking different. Something
Like that in every soul. Millions

Hate me and more millions yet will hate
My successor. To get this job is to
Accept free-flow hate, hate looking for home,
Boiling over, hissing. I could give a
Speech saying water was wet and my mail
Next day will be full of stuff about how

My kids can rot in hell, my wife can go
There too, plus you hope my dog gets killed. So
I (kind of) look forward to the head of
State days, when I am more symbol than man.
Today though is its own challenge, at the
Veterans’ hospital, giving what aid

I can to our soldiers injured on my
Watch. Some will live and some will sleep. I talk
With those who would and read to men whose speech
Has stopped. A little boy asks me why I
Weep, but no words come. Together we read
His father’s citation for bravery.

We say it again and then a third. On
My way out, a Marine’s mother holds her
Hands up, defiant—“Why does Y O U R child live,
While mine rots in Arlington?” I start to
Speak but wisdom tells me to be still. Her
Words are white hot and far from done and far

From quiet. She calls me every foul word
She knows and this is when all of my staff
Stops hoping to be president. The man
In me revolts at this but the nation
That lives in me must stand and wait. I stare
Into a fury undiminished. My

Role is to take this, be the face of wrong,
And everything wrong with everything,
Our first sin and last bad act, living proof
Nothing here could ever break right. Now her
Husband can only take so much grief, and
Leads his wife into the closest chair; his

Eyes have some pity, man to man, but on
My watch, on my watch, he lost his son, and
I must know the wages. On our way home
My staff says little. I say less, except
‘That woman hates me with an undying
Fire.’ No one disagrees. I wonder if

Tonight, when I see her son in sleep, when
I see him wandering in the shades, if
My sight will be pierced by the salvation
We hope saves those who perished from faith, or
My eyes blinded by the freedom purchased
At so high a price by soldiers sent too
Far away, and just one day too long.

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