American Flags

1 min

At age 16, I wrote my first poem, which won a national contest, and I have been writing ever since. After living around the US, I've settled in Centre County, Pennsylvania. I'm a staff member at Penn  [+]

My neighbors’ American flag hangs over their porch

and looks so bedraggled I guess they forgot about it,

but she seems to be alone now, we never see him anymore

and she has been mowing the lawn with a push mower.

I wonder if she feels free. She won’t wave to me.

Where I used to live, there’s a garage along the way

with an American flag painted on one of the walls

and when the woman who is now my wife used to visit me,

she’d tell me she had just passed the American flag garage

and I knew then she was only twenty miles away from me.

We pass the garage together now on trips back and forth

to our old house and remember when we were dating.

We still feel free, even with the I do’s and the years.

When I was in the Army, my favorite detail was flag detail.

We would wear dress uniforms and march smartly

to the flagpole in the middle of the fort

in the morning to bugled Reveille and solemnly raise the flag

and then stand at attention and salute it.

At dusk, we would do the reverse to Taps

and carefully fold the flag, not letting it touch the ground.

There, in that center, I was free and proud and tearful.

Whenever I see an American flag at half mast I pause

and pray for whoever that gesture is for,

for it is a powerful act to raise the flag

then lower it halfway, it means something profound.

It’s a signal to all of us to pray for someone we don’t know

or for their families who remain grieving.

The flag gives us the freedom to pray.


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