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.
Elizabeth Powell is the author of The Republic of Self (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2001), which was awarded the 2001 New Issues Poetry Prize. She teaches at the University of Vermont and lives in Burlington, Vermont.
Date Published: 2001-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/pledge