I Pledge Allegiance




I pledge allegiance to the space between the half-staff flag and the top of the flagpole, one measure of the distance between where we are and where we still need to be, one national gesture of respect for individual lives,

and to the kids—my kids—in the elementary school by which it flies, who can elevate us beyond half staff,

and to the adults who stand with hands over hearts in this gymnasium, having taken two hours off necessary jobs to see our kids sing together,

and to the churning differences in our bodies, religions, assumptions, and what fills our plates,

and to the hills behind the school, rolling through neighborhoods and towards our farm where I will crawl on my hands and knees using my fingers to separate weeds from the delicate parsnips, following my urge to stay close to this soil.

I pledge my allegiance to the seeds slow to germinate this year, nasturtiums and kale still surprising us by poking upwards just when we thought they had rotted in the dark.

I pledge my allegiance to the space between this soil and other soils, many distances between me and people I know and love more than the back of my hand, between me and strangers I know have similar maps on the backs of their hands; and to the water and air, particles connecting us, flowing through us in one global gesture of living.

I pledge allegiance to the flag

of my partner’s shirt in the wind on the roof; to my dog’s thick exuberant tail; to the two great blue flags of the heron’s wings flapping over our house towards the wetland; to the grasses raising their thin green flags across the field into a fine second hay cutting that will feed our neighbor’s beef; to the hands of our neighbors, flagging greetings as they drive past in trucks or tractors; to the yearning, many-storied people

of the United States of America—an improbable set of agreements and disagreements still somehow holding as a definable country—

and to the republic in which we stand,

one nation of many nations,

under god only knows how many names, illusions, auspices, impressions, guises, expectations, seeming

indivisible only because it is already divided into kaleidoscoping images that tumble around but stay together and create a whole picture,

with liberty and justice being more complicated than we hoped, but drawing us towards some past and future vision of a place where all of us—a phrase still demanding emphasis on all—will finally benefit from those slowly germinating seeds, and just when the promises of long-planted seeds seem rotten, tiny stems will unfurl with a bounty of beauty and food and

liberty and justice

for all.



6 thoughts on “I Pledge Allegiance”

  1. I LOVE the recognition of the space between the half staff flag position and the top of the pole position.

    Abbie, you did it again – thoughtful, beautiful, touching.

  2. Pitch perfect Abbie. I struggle for appropriate response over the national holidays. I have struggled ever since 1968 when I saw first hand that my Hispanic migrant worker neighbors did not have the same rights, opportunities, or respect that I was freely given just because of the color of my skin, the accident of my family of origin. Thank you for helping me to refocus. I have not said the pledge for 48 years.

  3. Great reframing of the pledge of allegiance. This one I can recite wholeheartedly.

  4. all I can say, Abbie, is WOW!! You have taken me to a place of memories, hope, expectations, unbridled patriotism, family and faith!! Love your writing. I will definitely say, “I knew her when”!! Love you girl. Keep your hands deep in that soil. Until later, Andrea

  5. thank you for such a thoughtful, beautiful interpretation of a pledge which many of us have trouble with

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