Returning to work I pass a house.
Repainted four times, that house.
I remember when it was white.
What I really remember is the moon –
A sort of full moon
And a few dwindling stars in a sky full of slate.
The sun was not up, but we were.
I felt the heater’s hot air on my tiny arms
And I looked up at the cold moon.
I could not tell you the name
Of the family that watched me those early mornings
When Mom had to go to Chicago to teach,
When I had school,
When Dad was off flying helicopters in a war.
But I remember their maple wood table, deep amber wood,
I remember chocolate chip pancakes.
Dry pancakes, moist chips,
And a sort of full moon.
Not folded, but bundled like laundry,
In arms tired and already burned by grease
And other people’s hash browns.
There is no time for ceremony.
There is, however, time for a quick cape.
A small thick cloud surrounds nylon glory
As a compatriot fumbles with clips and cord,
Unsure of which clip goes where.
The morning sun crests the overpass.
A coffee-deprived car runs up on the lane divider,
The audible thunk distracting from the duty
Of raising the symbol of freedom
Over the symbol of sausage, egg, cheese, and
The impossible bounty of a dollar menu.
Coffee in hand, I pause a moment.
I cannot help but slow my commute
Just a breath, a requisite pause before the rush,
Out of an old respect born of performing
The same small ceremony as a child at school.
And while we unfolded our flag with tiny, reverent hands,
And while we did not smoke mid-ceremony,
We all of us fumbled with the clips.
I don’t have to look back in my mirror
To know they’ll get it right.
That Old Glory will eventually grace the commuter’s dawn
And the black shirts will return to assisting the dreams of others,
Through prompt delivery of caffeine and glorious, factory-pressed biscuits.