My country is this dirt
that gathers under my fingernails
when I am in the garden.
The quiet bacteria and fungi,
all the little insects and bugs
are my compatriots. They are
idealistic, always working together
for the common good.
I kneel on the earth
and pledge my allegiance
to all the dirt of the world,
to all of that soil which grows
flowers and food
for the just and unjust alike.
The soil does not care
what we think about or who we love.
It knows our true substance,
of what we are really made.
I stand my ground on this ground,
this ground which will
recruit us all
to its side.
“Patriotism” by Ellie Schoenfeld , from The Dark Honey. © Clover Valley Press, 2009. Published with permission.
And in much the same vein:
“All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that’s now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.”
-Conrad Aiken, who died in 1973 and left instructions that his tombstone be made in the shape of a bench, so that people could stop by at the grave and have a Madeira. Aiken’s tombstone in Savannah, Georgia, reads, “Give my love to the world” and “Cosmos Mariner — Destination Unknown.” His gravesite became famous after John Berendt wrote about it in his true-crime novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994). Conrad wrote in a self-obituary: “Separate we come, and separate we go, / And this be it known, is all that we know.”
Writer’s Almanac 8.5.09
This, by the way, is the anniversary of the day in 1945 when bombers acting on behalf of the people of the United States deployed their atomic weaponry on 80,000 citizens of Hiroshima, Japan. Harry Truman said he lost no sleep.