DEAR AMERICAN LADY

Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow
2021
Finalist
Adult

We acknowledge. Beneath the sun-spoked diadem
Encircling your celebrated head these two centuries plus,
You remain marvelously fair. Neither the heavy torch
Nor the massive, dated tablet have felled you. Still you hospitably
Offer greeting. Once you were a foreigner. Here is home where
Originals thrived. They toiled and feasted upon this land,
Trod many-hued dirt paths to reach five bejeweled
Great lakes, deciphered bird calls from bird cries,
Studiously bent tree saplings into route markers that stand
Today immense in the forests. To clear and cleanse the land
Fire was mastered. Reluctantly they gave way for others.
They continue to forge on.                  With iron muscle and copper skin    
Across pitching cold waters you came shipped.
Your relations courted an ocean liner’s sterling upper decks                    
Expectant of fertile country. Three decks below in dank wishful
Steerage, a stew of languages sung out for ground that would
Grant trust. From cargo ships, by haunted hull despicable,
Multitudes in shackled chains. Yet, for all, their blood, their kinfolk, their
successors onward forge. All who witnessed the boats sail in long ago,
And sail in still. Under your golden flame, the promise ever cresting.

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