I can crumple up this flag in my hand,
pretending that it is a letter from a lost lover
or something that a magician can cause to vanish
with a whispered abracadabra
or a list of to-dos—sweep, dishes, laundry—
that I wrote myself in January 2013.
I can pretend to swallow the blood of soldiers
who died on this land for freedom
and to laugh at Veteran’s day 10% discounts
and Memorial Day celebrations—
where Republicans are talking about freedom
from those offensive Democrats
and the left wants to stone the intolerant right wing
all at one hamburger cookout.
I can refuse to hold the door for a gentleman
in a black “Vietnam Veteran” hat
or stay toying with Twitter on my phone
while the national anthem plays.
I can refuse to watch fireworks on Fourth of July,
and instead spend the evening posting extremist hashtags
and blogging about leaving the country after election.
But when I want to crumple the stars and stripes
in my pocket, I must remember that
waving, trampling, ignoring the flag will not heal me.
I must remember that none of it
will bring you back.