When will the stickers come down?

Summer came and went, and autumn glided in, soft and quiet like sunset. The leaves on the oaks turned neon yellow and cherry red, and then began to float down and away. Given the timing this year, it was almost as though the trees were made of American flags instead of bare twigs and branches; the more leaves fell, the more I noticed the flags.

Everywhere. I had come to take it for granted that I only saw the flags of my country by the courthouse and the nearby middle school. Every time I ventured out this fall, there were more of them, the previously-ignored symbol suddenly a commodity.

It was the bumper sticker to have. Flag ties, tie pins, earrings, shirts. What was it about eagles and the phrase "United We Stand" that made me feel alienated instead of united?

Jingoism, in any form

Yesterday I purchased many, many bulbs for the front flowerbeds. Fifty assorted daffodil bulbs, fifty assorted tulips, and a combined package of grape hyacinths and some other small flower whose name escapes me.

I went out this morning to plant the bulbs, and found that the ground was virtually too packed for me to shovel. Alabama red clay mud, when packed solid and baked slowly until dry, is virtually impervious to all man and beast (except, of course, fire ants, which can tunnel through plutonium and survive, I'd think).I managed to dig a few small trench rows, in which I laid alternating bulbs—tulip, daffodil, tulip, daffodil. After that, having spent far more time than I wanted with far fewer results than I would've liked, I gave up, put the shovel back on the porch, and went back inside.

An accounting of the day

I am part of the chain.

Jeff, on the answering machine this morning: "Amy, turn on the television now."
Ten minutes later, to Kat: "Kat, turn on your television now. What channel? Any channel."
To Brad: "What are they saying up there? Please, tell me something I don't know already."
To Andrew: "Hold on, hold on….my God. It's gone."
To Heather: "Is Andy okay? Have you heard?"


It was the cherry-time of the summer season,
and you were gone—and back—in the breath of a year.
The posters on the walls warned of spies, and treason,
and the sins of idleness. You spoke not of fear,

of loss, but instead: dancing, drinks, shore leave -
of when we could be like other couples again,
sedately married, with no need for Navy reprieve.
I bobbed my hair in eager anticipation

of reunion, and opened your letters with knives
kept sharp to protect the flimsy paper inside.
In May, the letters stopped coming. Were you alive

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