Pledge

Elizabeth Powell

 
Republic, your cool hands
On my schoolgirl shoulders.
Not sure what allegiances meant
Until the vows were held by heart,
By memory, by rote, by benign betrothal.
Republic, you were mine, I knew
Because of Mother's religious pamphlets:
Lindsay for Mayor.
McGovern for President.
How to Register Voters.
I didn't ever want to go to school
On Saturdays. The baby-sitter said
If Nixon won, I'd have to go. Me,
Your most cherished child bride.
I wanted a white communion dress
Like the ones the Catholic girls wore.
Republic, you know I wanted to play
Cards with Mother. Mother smoking
Marlboros, watching Watergate all week.
Citizen Mother all consumed at that confessional.
I liked the name Betsy Ross.
I liked the idea of sewing flags.
I liked the tattered textbook about the colonies.
So tender, so tender. My Republic,
I am pledged by my childish troth
So strangely to you.
 
From The Republic of Self by Elizabeth Powell, published by New Issues Poetry & Prose. Copyright © 2001 by Elizabeth Powell. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Further Reading

Poems About Childhood
"Out, Out—"
by Robert Frost
Don't Let Me Be Lonely [There was a time]
by Claudia Rankine
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
by Christopher Merrill
A child said, What is the grass?
by Walt Whitman
Another Country
by Ryan Teitman
anyone lived in a pretty how town
by E. E. Cummings
Babylon
by Robert Graves
Because I cannot remember my first kiss
by Roger Bonair-Agard
Birches
by Robert Frost
Block City
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Blur
by Andrew Hudgins
Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
deer & salt block
by Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Early Memory
by January Gill O'Neil
Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas
Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About
by Judith Viorst
For Some Slight I Can't Quite Recall
by Ross Gay
From the Lives of My Friends
by Michael Dickman
Giraffes
by Kimiko Hahn
Going Down Hill on a Bicycle
by Henry Charles Beeching
In the Waiting Room
by Elizabeth Bishop
Jabberwocky
by Lewis Carroll
Lullaby in Blue
by Betsy Sholl
My Aunts
by Meghan O'Rourke
My Bright Aluminum Tumblers
by Michael Ryan
My Childhood
by Matthew Zapruder
Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth
Pirate Story
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Playgrounds
by Laurence Alma-Tadema
Poem for You
by David Shapiro
Recuerdo
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Solar system bedsheets
by Sarah Vap
The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Gaffe
by C. K. Williams
The Lamb
by William Blake
The Portrait
by Stanley Kunitz
The Retreat
by Henry Vaughan
The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
They Call This
by C. K. Williams
To My Best Friend's Big Sister
by Ross Gay
Untitled [The child thought it strange]
by Richard Meier
Untitled [You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old]
by Rudyard Kipling
We Are Seven
by William Wordsworth
Back to School Poems
Apples
by Grace Schulman
Being Jewish in a Small Town
by Lyn Lifshin
Evening Walk as the School Year Starts
by Sydney Lea
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Gradeschool's Large Windows
by Thomas Lux
In Michael Robins’s class minus one
by Bob Hicok
M. Degas Teaches Art & Science at Durfee Intermediate School, Detroit 1942
by Philip Levine
Mary's Lamb
by Sarah Josepha Hale
Niggerlips
by Martín Espada
Nonsense Alphabet
by Edward Lear
One A.M. [excerpt]
by David Young
Panty Raid
by Terri Ford
Sentimental Education
by Mary Ruefle
Sick
by Shel Silverstein
The Hand
by Mary Ruefle
The High-School Lawn
by Thomas Hardy
The Junior High School Band Concert
by David Wagoner
The Testing-Tree
by Stanley Kunitz
Theme for English B
by Langston Hughes
We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
Why Latin Should Still Be Taught in High School
by Christopher Bursk
You and Your Ilk
by Thomas Lux