The Consequences of Déjà Vu….

Hot summer temps had arrived in Woodstock, VT. Vibrant cobalt blue skies stretched overhead. White clouds of cotton suspended while hovering above the Ottauquechee River. The Village Green dotted with festive tents filled with vendors, authors, and freshly stacked books. Coffee available at the first tent on the left. The perfect companion for any good book. Music gently floated through the sauntering crowd.

Bookstock 2022 was in full swing. The Green Mountain Festival of Words. A literary festival that had been pandemically interrupted returned this weekend. First time novelists. A local New York Times best-selling author. Acclaimed authors. Poet Laureates. Three days of talks and readings. Poets recited personal painful truths. An author spoke of the macabre. Stories shared with discussions of writing processes, rituals, and anecdotes delightfully intertwined.

The first lecture I attended was at the North Chapel early Friday morning. Masks required. The chapel ceiling reached toward the heavens. Sparse and elegantly spare. Rows of ceiling fans ready to be employed as the heat filled the sacred space. Two wide rows of wooden pews offered ample socially distant seating for the attendees. Creaking in a familiar any denomination way. Portable window screens precariously placed. One than another fell to the floor. Our focus abruptly shifted as we startled in unison. Frightened by the loud disruptive noise. We are never easy around loud sudden noises in public anymore…

We settled in again as poets Steve Coughlin and Sean Prentiss artistically educated and recited their “memoirs-in-poems.” They have known one another for several years. Mutual respect was as inspiring as their writing. Each poet’s work was evocative. Different yet equally transporting. Somewhere after 10 am as I floated on Coughlin’s striking verse, I mourned my own mother as he poignantly spoke of the death of his own. His poetry dramatically universal. A loss that cuts deeply…

I had respectfully silenced my phone prior to the talk. My left arm casually rested on the back of the pew. My attention Interrupted as my Apple watch flashed and vibrated with breaking news. The external world had found me. Channel 5 in Vermont was reporting that Roe v Wade had been reversed. I felt ill. Saddened. Angry…

The poets continued, but their words muted as the news of Roe v Wade consumed me. I felt alone in my thoughts and knowledge as the recitation continued. The poets’ words fell away and were replaced by thoughts of my daughter and twenty-two-month-old granddaughter. The chapel air now claustrophobically warm. The fans effectively a nuisance. Uncomfortably I sat. Quiet in my outrage. I recalled my mother telling me of our once family doctor who illegally performed abortions prior to Roe V Wade circa 1973. He wanted to provide women with a safe alternative to the proverbial back alley while he risked and ultimately lost his medical license. Unsteady under the weight of this dizzying news I made my way out of the chapel…

I found myself sharing a bench on the green with a woman I knew not. I needed just to sit. Community activity momentarily shielded me from the reckless consequential decisions of others. My phone buzzed with a text message from a Vermont activist group already in motion. Ready to act. The news was expected but alarmingly disappointing. Asked if I would be voting this November I responded “yes.” Would I be supporting the Reproductive Liberty Amendment? “Yes,” I immediately responded. The Reproductive Liberty Amendment is “Every Vermonter’s right to make their own reproductive decisions.”

Déjà vu…

“Nothing is stronger than a woman who is fighting for what she believes in.” Unknown



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Elizabeth Ricketson

Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts.