a springtime view out the window

The silver pole peeks out from my neighbor’s roof, still, in the late-spring sunlight. Midnight blue wrapped thrice around it, deflated and confused. Looking at the stars, I feel sad, as if I will suffocate under their weight. Below, the red and white stripes float lazily in the breeze, mirroring the newly-arrived leaves on the tree opposite the porch. The confident stripes feel oppressive, indifferent, terrifyingly unfeeling. I can only see the very top of the flag, and the very bottom, but just the outline of it gives me the heebie jeebies.

To our neighbor, though, does the flag feel different? He is a Vietnam war vet, a Black man, a retired Kodak man, a king of the streets (his words, not mine), a loyal husband to his wife since 1976. When he bought the house, he erected the flag pole himself, carefully placed the United States’ flag on it, let it wave in the wind for all to see. The proud silver rod is the figurehead at the prow of his porch.

According to the Royal Museums Greenwich, a ship’s figurehead embodies “the spirit of the vessel, offering the crew protection from harsh seas and safeguarding their homeward journey.” Protection. Safeguarding. Spirit. Home. These words form such a stark contrast to the words that brew in my chest: Scared. Unsafe. Chaotic. Defeated.

Is it our age that separates our very different reactions to the flag? Is it our communities? Is it the time we were born? What is it that makes him want to raise that flag proudly and call it home? What is it that makes me want to wrap it up tightly, put it in a box, and never see it again?


nobody is abandoned

It’s like feeling a flood of desire, sudden, without the usual bristling or wincing. The sky is the new blue gazing out of a baby’s face, not yet fully formed, inevitable. Everything – that burst of breeze, this unfurling leaf – feels just out of place enough so it feels like I have landed in an alien world. The grasses with their tiny white flowers. The insistent wind. The expectant, sweet air. The mothering of it all, the singing.

We sit in the warm grass and fall back, arms outstretched, letting the earth inhabit our bodies, hair tangled in the green grass, hours-old bugs flying inches from our noses.

And the sun. The Sun. Nobody is abandoned. We are swaddled in the sun. We are newborns. We are suppliants to the sun. We are on our death beds, smiling.