A Flag for All Seasons

I nominate a tri-colored field of light in Ohio.
This January lake, the visiting handful of geese.
One nominee has to be blackness retreating
inch by inch beside that requisite star field.
We know enough about flags not to need one.
It is no surprise a nation enlists cryptograms
to rally those forgetting that danger attends
living and breathing. Yet what astonishes
isn’t that we are alive but how tentative
is the hold we exert on any part of that.
If spirit imbues the embroidered rag-fabric
and represents dawn, this highway by fields,
then tell that truth to the sweatshop worker
stitching together whatever she is handed.
My heart will not give up on this country.
I’ve struggled with the best and worst of it.
Like any Old Testament diviner wrestling
the intransigent angel to procure a blessing.
These days, I still use words like republic
but pledge allegiance to thread-nothing.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of four books and several chapbooks. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and elsewhere, as well as the anthologies New Poetry from the Midwest and Every River on Earth. His collection of poems Nosferatu in Florida is currently in search of a publisher, having been a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize (twice), the Moon City Review Poetry Prize, the Gerald Cable Book Award, and the Anhinga Prize for Poetry. He has received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (in poetry) and fellowships from the arts councils of Ohio and Florida. He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.

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