10 February 2008


THE TUESDAY 10AM CIVIL DEFENSE SIREN ENDS. Along the sidewalk, a dragged snowshovel is nails to chalkboard. Time to vote. Twenty-four states have primaries right now, Super Tuesday's nationwide lotto pick, presidential pick-one. A California grownup Facebooks she "is bom chicka wa wa for obama." Another friend emails he's weary of dynasty, having lived his entire adult life under the rule of a Bush or Clinton. Early voting held the appeal of one more item checked off a list, but as a contentious friend snapped on Monday night with her cracker-barrel alacrity, "You could have thrown your vote away." Yes, but then there's the walk to the corner and back. On the wide Chicago street, buses number their route aloud. It smells like spring if spring were a huge dog. It's a marvel, the mass of fog produced at 42 degrees with inches of snow on the ground. Outside the Ukrainian church hall, there's one U. S. flag, two blue cones to keep the man with branded carnations and the other dozen signs fifty feet away in either direction, the striving likes of Collins-Bedi-Hendon-Mertens-Moreno-Delgado. A few older women stare at their ballots, seeing everything or seeing nothing. It all amounts to one ballot, in a state with a system that likely works. Outside, I put the ballot receipt—Form 10—in my pocket. I look up, take a photograph. Overhead, forty-seven pigeons swoop, bank, swoop again. I count them twice.