White Flag
Joey De Jesus

for Victoria


It is likely that these symbols of American achievement have been rendered blank, bleached white by the UV radiation of unfiltered sunlight on the lunar surface.
—Dr. Paul D. Spudis, “Faded Flags on the Moon”

Do you really want me to go there?
Recreate that morning on the floodplain? Exact
in opalescence? How you, sister
at the kitchen island, brooding over
a bowl of Silk, pioneered quietude
while the lawn’s red dying warred slow
against maggot medicine?
How the last sizable snow still waged
against the Jeep’s rusting
undercarriage? How the ice
was on the move and soon
there would be flooding? And we knew it?

The grackles ransacked
sopped sod for seed
so feverishly
it made the hills lift up
their arms to articulate a grief
that could not wait.

Suet-eater, seedspitter, berryskin.

Hadn’t I been dreaming
we’d labored miles on a lion’s back?
Sister and I?
Hadn’t we dusted our eyelids dark,
lacquered our claws to the lilac goddess
just as rocksalt hit the ground and scattered?
The wood, did it not curl like centipedes
confronting cold water?
Or was that me?
Oh? The sky
will cost us our boys?
Oh? Ammonia in the air like a ghost
that is not our patriarch? Broken
sump-pump garbling black mold
and insecticide spray? Is this the world
in spite of us? The moon smiling
its white idiocy?
How water busted right in,
through the back door,
like a steel trap hungry for our limbs?
How I wonder about the trajectory
of your life. Teenage sister, this is to you—
Both non-white and woman,
how am I supposed to warn you?
Where would I begin?

 
 

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