For the front yard mimosa pinking its boughs

above the old truck | and the congregationalist urge


to give account | before witnesses | I write

and talk | at the park | telling my neighbor


how a rebel war flag flies over Interstate 95

and he says | It’s hard—people had family die


in that war | and he doesn’t mean Iraq | or drones

or the border our neighbors’ children die to cross | no


he means the Civil War | But whose uncle

or brother died at Appomattox? | None of us


remember | I had to do the work of books

to find what I did not want to find | history


with its long oppressive arm | its roll calls

and musters | enlistment dates | pension records


Confederate Applications for Pardon | Isn’t

it enough | my fathers and uncles | my brothers


aunts | grandmother and grandfathers

sprang from the South and have done the work


of war? | It is not enough | my mouth is small

a little bole on a live oak | but when my neighbor


says who died | doesn’t he mean who is dying?

And when he nods, says oh yeah, people bitching


about the flag | I recollect the poet who said

to be ashamed is to be American