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Elizabeth Powell

Elizabeth A.I. Powell is the author of three books of poems, including Atomizer (LSU Press, 2020). Her second book of poems, Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances was named a “Books We Love 2016” by The New Yorker. CK Williams chose her first book The Republic of Self as the New Issues First Book Prize winner. Her novel Concerning the Holy Ghost's Interpretation of JCrew Catalogues was published in 2019 in the U.K. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review and Professor of Creative Writing at Northern Vermont University.

By This Poet

1

Pledge

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.