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.