A Poem by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer | 1/20/17
When I was a girl, I learned to pledge allegiance
to your flag. I remember saying the words
in school every morning, led by a teacher’s voice
made tinny by the loudspeaker.
I stood behind my desk, small hand on my heart,
and I said the rote words
not because I understood them,
not because I meant them, but because
that is what we did—like brushing
our teeth before bed or like kneeling in church
when everyone else kneels, or like saying
I’m fine when someone asks How are you.
America, I don’t remember when it was
I began to cry every time I say the pledge,
my throat tight, my lips quivering.
America, what would you look like
if there were liberty and justice for all?
I feel the weight of every word in the pledge
and imagine all the blood that is lost for you,
imagine how beautiful your dream is,
know how blemished it’s become.
America, are you possible? America,
I am with those who believe in you.
America, I am just one woman,
but here is my voice, here
are my hands, here is my heart.
I don’t know where to start except
to show up in your name—to find you,
America, in every neighbor, in every friend.
America in every face. America
in every street. America in every park,
America in the mirror.
I want to believe we are learning, America,
that we are all in this together.
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