Prayer Ballot

Luke Stevens-Royer

(written for the Presidential Election, 2016)

I walk in, as on pilgrimage. 
The altar cloths are red, white, and blue 
the ushers are the women 
who have been running these things 
who have been running everything 
since before I was born.

I’m handed the ballot 
like a scroll 
because the questions 
seem that important 
ancient and modern 
of what my God and country 
ask of me: 

Whofor commissioner, mayor, president
whofor district 8, ward 7, school board
whowill do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly?

I make my mark 
with at least a shred of hope 
that something good will come from this.

And regardless, I remember: 
the world won’t be destroyed, entirely, by this; 
the world won’t be saved, entirely, by this.

Marking my vote 
is like kneeling in prayer 
because neither will accomplish 
anything right away
but the purpose of both 
is to remind me 
of my deepest hope 
for the world that I’m trying to help create.

So I rise from prayer, 
and turn in my ballot 
and remember the who is me, 
and us, and we the people
and again I set to the task that is mine: 
justice, mercy, humble service 
in my small corner of the world.

Inside of a school gymnasium, red-white-&-blue curtains hang along a string of voting booths, with some voters visible.