For lack of nothing better to do I turn left into the neighborhood behind Totem House Fish and Chips and the 7-Eleven that wouldn’t die, when I pass a house whose front lawn has been trimmed from corner to corner with three-foot high American flags. Staked in the precision cut grass like army regiments ready to defend the house’s honor. They formed their own ramparts, they gallantly streamed. Their broad strips and bright stars curled around the black poles of their bodies and reminded me of rivers flowing between the oh-say-can-you-see Mountains. Three weeks before the fourth and this guy can’t wait to demonstrate his patriotism. But isn’t that the point of being an American? Isn’t that one of the benefits? To shoot off your rocket’s red glare, your bombs bursting in air? Damn the neighbor’s dog and the noise ordinances and the old bitty across the street who gives you the stink-eye every day from her living room window. I can see him now, by the dawn’s early light, stooped over the grass, beer-belly spilling out from a worn Hawaiian shirt, the steel case of a tape measure gripped in his palm, spacing out each star-spangled banner like some new beacon of hope, some new homage to symbolism–pushing each one through the top soil, sacrificing a few healthy leaves of grass for the sake of symmetry. And later, sitting on the porch before dinner with a cold one, he proudly hailed his handiwork by the twilight’s last gleaming. He had fought the perilous fight. He told himself that he was brave and that he was free and in the morning the flags were still there, they yet waved and gave proof of a new America to wake up to, a new land of reformed cynics and recovering naysayers.
Read four poems by Tina Schumann previously appearing in Terrain.org.
Header photo by Rachel Moon, courtesy Shutterstock.