Tuesday, and after: 2007
9/21 I know it is draped in no national flag.
There is the memory of those days
and the record of those days
and they are not the same.
So much I didn’t record
so much we didn’t know.
September 18, the anthrax attacks began,
but we wouldn’t be told until weeks later.
And I didn’t write about Tuesday
in Philadelphia, about how that morning
it was quite possible a plane-bomb was coming here,
although even at that moment
I was dubious that international terrorists
cared about our old, cracked bell.
How Center City was evacuated,
how I had sprained my ankle that weekend
so we had driven to work—lucky us, for all the train stations
How I knew people all over the country,
people who, when the electricity was still flowing on January 1st,
had felt more than little foolish
with their unneeded cases of bottled water
and boxes of stored food,
but were now, suddenly, glad for the safety net.
How our transmission died, again,
and we were forced to buy a car—used, but still—
right when True Americans were being told
to buy cars to save our country.
Or this—how, in response to U.S. flags breaking out everywhere,
we hung an earth flag from our porch and, on the first night,
I heard glass breaking outside
and was terrified our house was being attacked
and so opened a third floor and swore violently into the night air.
(a lesson learned in Feminist self-defense—a woman who meets an attack
yelling and cussing and furious is much less a target
than a woman who shows fear, or who wants to make nice)
Swore violently, much to the surprise
of a couple of kids, bored now that schools were closed,
and kicking bottles up the street to pass the time.
We looked at each other, and everyone knew
I was the crazy white lady.
Crazy white lady, in a crazy world,
where hanging a simple piece of fabric with a picture of our planet
was an act of resistance that took courage
This morning, six years on, the flag snagged again on the roof, and ripped.
Time for a new one—but showing what?
What symbol on fabric
would serve as a sign of resistance
to what we now face?
I see attempts all over my neighborhood—peace signs,
pax flags, rainbow flags, rainbow peace flags, rainbow pace flags,
banners with symbols of world religions, Tibetan prayer flags,
flags with corporate symbols instead of stars—
or even all taken together
seem to me to be the opposite
of the intentional, planned, cruel yet indifferent,
power for power’s sake, fascist thought-control,
of the evil we face
that no list of words can completely describe.
What symbol is the sum of what is being done?
What symbol, then, is the sum of resistance to that?
What flag will I fly?
Six years on, what flag
might we fly?