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Elana Bell
Elana Bell
The grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Elana Bell was selected by Fanny Howe to receive the 2011 Walt Whitman Award for her manuscript Eyes, Stones...
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Flags

 
by Elana Bell

                                We have put up many flags,
                                they have put up many flags.
                                To make us think that they are happy.
                                To make them think that we are happy.
                                                                     —Yehuda Amichai

Everywhere, in the fertile soil of this land, 
we've planted flags. Flags sprout like the hair
from an old man's nostrils. Blue and white 
or red, black, green and white, they shroud 
windows, standing in for a family 
you can't see: a flag instead of the mother 
who hums and spices the lentils, a flag 
for father, who runs the blade against his cheek
each morning with the rooster's kukuku. 
Later, in the dark, he holds his wife 
while the children sleep wrapped in flags. 
Flags grow in the garden, flags from the beaks
of muted birds. Shredded flags drape phone wires, 
flags hang from the pines like dead hands—






Copyright © 2011 by Elana Bell. Used by permission of the author.
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