Nostalgia for what never was

My mother hated Stalin
but loved Trotsky. She had
no party affiliation, no friends
with whom to talk politics.

Police mugshots of Trotsky in 1905 after Soviet members were arrested during a meeting in the Free Economic Society building. By Saint Petersburg police department [Source], Public Domain, Link.

There was only me to listen.
Maybe it was because Trotsky
was Jewish. I don’t know.
Maybe her father the leftie

organizer murdered by
Pinkertons liked Trotsky.
All gone into the fog of un-
knowing. Yet to this day

I can sing the International.
I have nostalgia for old left
songs. I can remember when
revolution seemed possible,

before Reagan taught working
people to hate the poor; before
Clinton gave the party to Wall
Street, before the right got power

and gerrymandered, suppressed
people of color to keep control.
In this time, socialist is an insult,
and official murderers thrive.

by Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is the author of many books of poetry, most recently On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light (Knopf, 2020).