should be green to represent an ocean. It should have two stars in the first canton, for us and navigation. They should be of gold thread, placed diagonally, and not solid, but comprised of lines. Our flag should be silky jet. It should have a wound, a red river the sun must ford when flown at half-mast. It should have the first letter of every alphabet ever. When folded into a triangle an embroidered eighth note should rest on top or an odd-pinnate, with an argentine stem, a fiery leaf, a small branch signifying the impossible song. Or maybe honey and blue with a centered white pinion. Our flag should be a veil that makes the night weep when it comes to dance, a birthday present we open upon death, the abyss we sleep under. Our flag should hold failure like light glinting in a headdress of water. It should hold the moon as the severed head of a white animal and we should carry it to hospitals and funerals, to police stations and law offices. It should live, divided, deepening its yellows and reds, flaunting itself in a dead gray afternoon sky. Our flag should be seen at weddings well after we've departed. It should stir in the heat above the tables and music. It should watch our friends join and separate and laugh as they go out under the clouded night for cold air and cigarettes. Our flag should sing when we cannot, praise when we cannot, rejoice when we cannot. Let it be a reminder. Let it be the aperture, the net, the rope of dark stars. Let it be mathematics. Let it be the eloquence of the process shining on the page, a beacon on the edge of a continent. Let its warnings be dismissed. Let it be insignificant and let its insignificance shine.
First published in American Poet. Copyright © 2010 by Carl Adamshick. From Curses and Wishes (Louisiana State University Press, 2011). Used by permission of the author.