The flag outside my house is faded, sun-touched, the field of stars
more grey than blue, the stripes approaching Millennial pink. At night
I have a recurring dream. The flag on the moon. How if we were to return
we would find it white. Bleached by radiation. We begin to send
missions to replace it. Replenishing flowers before a tomb. The former flagpoles
with surrendered flags begin to pile up and look like the long bones on Everest.
Never summited. These sewn ghosts, their blankness, begotten from
Jasper Johns. Perhaps the astronauts would be better off treating this ritual
territorial marking like college boys at the beach scrawling USA! USA! USA! ‘
over and over in the sand where there is no tide to come and take their patriotic
boasts out to sea. They would tell Houston of their success and the control
room would start to sound like a locker room after a big game. Braggadocio,
triumph. “Just replace the damn flag.” You say, “if you’re that worried
about NASA behaving like frat lords in space.” But the new flags are too
bright and seem heavy-handed in their proclamations of identity. Still each
night I return to fresh accumulation and I begin to wonder if
pride is like weather swelling and dispersing over trans-boundary
waters. Where laws do not apply.
Photo used under Public Domain.