When I was a kid, my mom would take me and my sister into the voting booth with her, one of the little booths set up in the basement of a neighbor hood building, the laundry room. I could smell the Tide, the bleach, feel the agitation of the washers vibrating through the cement floor as my mom pulled the curtain behind us. It was like being in a shower stall, the air humid with our breath, as she pulled one lever, then another, each one making a satisfying clunk as she voted for the people she thought would best represent her and her girls. She slid open the curtain and it did feel like stepping out of a shower—we all felt cleansed and new, knowing we had done something to help freshen up the world.
Gayle Brandeis is the author, most recently, of the memoir The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide (Beacon Press), and the poetry collection The Selfless Bliss of the Body (Finishing Line Books). Her other books include Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), and the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt), which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a state-wide read in Wisconsin. Her poetry, essays, and short fiction have been widely published and have received numerous honors, including a Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award and a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. She teaches at Sierra Nevada College and in the low residency MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles.