White Petals

By Tim Dlugos

The Republic lies in the blossoms of Washington. —Robert Bly

White petals
drop into the dark river.
Heedless of political significance,
they ride out to the sea like stars.

I’m the space explorer.
I travel to a planet
where there are no plants or animals.
Everyone lives in harmony.
I don’t want to go home.

I’m the pioneer man and the pioneer woman,
both at the same time.
I build my house with my own hands,
and it’s beautiful,
with simple, perfect lines.

I’m the farmer waiting for the vegetables
to grow, so I can eat.
I’m the hunter aiming at the bear.
I don’t want to shoot it, but my family needs meat.
The bear gives me a long dumb animal look.
We’ll use his skin for blankets,
his fat to light our lamps.
Our cabin will stink all night.

I’m the cabin boy who graduates to captain.
Shipboard sex is rough, but it suits my taste.
I’m the man on the steps of the house
where the President’s widow lives.
All night I wait for the stranger
to get out of his car
so I can flash my look of recognition.

I’m the cowpoke who sleeps with his horses.
I’m the man who loves dogs.
I’m the cranky President sneaking away
to swim in the Potomac.

I’m the black man.
I close my eyes
and it gets dark inside.

I feel the sun on my face.
I see the light through my eyelids.
It’s bright, intelligent
free of all cares.

I’m the heir of a great American family.
My success is guaranteed.
Unexpected tragedy is all that can stop me.
I’m the popular senator teaching his son to shave.

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