Truth about the Things We Bury
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
Lately the American flag looks like nothing but
blood and bandages
layered one on top of another
the blood never seeping through
frozen by the iciness of heart
clogged by the pain of Too Many Hurts
each demanding to be seen, felt, but not
the blood doesn’t flow
it stays, (Hands up!)
the bandages wrapped, we bury it again
it is a great whitewashing of hurt
that has become part of the American experience.
Everything is fine.
We didn’t witness the collapse of the American financial sector and the global economy because of rampant unchecked corporate greed.
We didn’t have mass shootings that killed 20, 40, 60, 80 people.
We are safe.
We didn’t just watch our President escape impeachment for collaborating with a foreign government to interfere in our presidential election.
We are fair.
We didn’t just enter a pandemic with no real national strategy or leadership.
We are prepared.
We are not witnessing the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans, their bodies held in refrigerated trucks.
We are warriors.
We are not watching voters in Wisconsin and Georgia stand in line to vote in a primary for 6-8 hours during a pandemic.
Voting is a privilege.
We are not watching our politicians heartily encourage us to return to work and shopping in order to save the Great American Economy.
Exercise personal responsibility.
We are not watching our black citizens being murdered by police, over and over and over.
We are a country of law and order.
We are not explaining, once again, why we need more social workers and fewer police officers.
Justice has been done.
We are not allowing a narcissistic sociopath to use military force to dispel protesters to take a picture with a Bible in front of a church.
Don’t believe fake news.
To acknowledge such truths would be too harmful to what we hold dear about being American.
Freedom. Equality. Justice. Bravery. Compassion. The High Road.
We cannot hold these realities in our minds.
Can you imagine the pain if such a reality were true?
This year, the flag is all blood and bandages to me
With each star a reason that we may die for it
For shopping and dining and entertainment
For living in nursing homes, or hospice, or prisons, or jails
For watching our grandchildren or going to church
For protesting or policing
For going to college or opening a business
For treating patients or collecting our garbage
For being a suspicious shade of skin
For looking like someone else
For, for, for.
But things that are still alive don’t stay buried
And things that have long been dead don’t bleed
No matter how many times we send the living to the grave
The stone inconveniently rolls away again
They rise, healing in Their wings
For the price of seeing
For believing in the wounds, without needing to touch them
For gazing upon the faces of those whom the systems have killed
They rise again
But we do not sing hallelujah
Because we don’t need to be forgiven.
Because we have done nothing wrong.
We are sure of it.
We don’t feel hurt, so there is no hurt.
And anyway, we all hurt from time to time.
Life is hard.
It’s wonderful to just be alive and live in this great country.
Oh. But you are bleeding.
Take a bandage.
There, there now.