Didn’t you thrill to the snapping pennants,
the excited dogs, the flying bunting,
the cops minding traffic like blue angels
behind their black and brilliant shades?
Didn’t you like the way the the ladies from the garden club
tended to the potted flowers, taking compliments
as they topped off the morning watering?
Wasn’t it moving to see the old men in pinched caps,
drifting down the side streets by ones and twos
converging with other wispy patriots
with sticks, stiff backs, and aching knees,
arriving full of raunchy gossip and regret?
The clean fire trucks!
Weren’t you cheered by the high school band,
the husky leader spinning the baton,
the thin clarinets whistling in the open air,
the snare drums rapping in steady time?
Didn’t you smile to see the kids
hopping in anguish while waiting
for their classmates passing on the floats
to pelt them with candy showers?
Didn’t you admire the Scouts, so tall
and tan for so early in the spring
as if they’d spent the winter months
preparing for this day of commemoration?
And all the flags!
Forget the politics. Didn’t your heart beat
to the rising skirl; didn’t you tap your fingers
on the steering wheel; didn’t the music make you shiver,
make you eager to join the marchers?
The world’s imperfect, I should get used to it
when every word I read or scroll or sound bite
flings, for money, its imperfections in my face
like a jilted lover seized with vicious rage.
I should adapt, I should find some other way
to keep track of passing time and mortal love
than continuing to ask how the wide world fares.
I should abandon her at last as she only spits
and hacks up wads of bitterness while she circles
me, she grimly laughing and pointing out
that I am ridiculous. Imperfect, broken,
she flaunts her state and dares me to own
this bitterness, because she knows it’s mine, bile and poison
sucked from the failing ventricles of my heart.
Liz Grisaru works for New York State in renewable energy policy and is based in Albany, New York, the State capital. She grew up and went to college in Boston, Massachusetts, and lived in New York City and Brooklyn for fifteen years before moving upstate, where she and her wife raised two children. She had a several-decade hiatus in writing as she pursued her career and family life but lately has been drawn back to poetry as both a reader and a writer. She holds a BA in History and Literature, a JD, and an LL.M.