The Flag is Bleeding, 2019

after Faith Ringgold’s painting, “The Flag is Bleeding” (1997)

Twenty-one stars pin this mother’s grief
to royal blue, the sclera of her eyes, scarlet.
She can no longer see, no longer count.
Her hands press against her Sunday dress
her remaining son, her remaining daughter
—still wet from the bath—still safe
in their unknowing. They stand on tiptoe,
one on each of her broad brown feet, to keep
her from falling, from reading with her fingertips
the blooming glyphs of blood, names
of massacred in this country
she’s still afraid to call home. 

Copyright © 2020 by María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado. This poem was first printed in One, Issue 20, January 26, 2020. Used with the permission of the editors and the author.