Rachel Wetzsteon, 19672009 *

The Country of Single Women

At sunrise, check the ashes.
If you see your face in them
you have your freedom.

The national plant, let it be sawgrass
its thin smile sharp enough
to cut the unwary, but easy enough
to pick if you choose your approach.
A practical plant is required
one that survives drought and frost
and can be used as fodder
for the wild and the dumb
when times are hard.

Our anthem must be sung a capella
by a single voice with
or without microphone
in difficult conditions
for there will be many competing voices
to rise above.

National treasures comprise mainly
photo albums, anecdotes
and a shopping bag full of letters
refolded in original envelopes
stamps now wildly out of date
some of them foreign
and every letter
once known
by heart.

Nationality is a gift
that cannot be returned
by the recipient. If revoked
the papers must be twisted
into chains and set alight with a flame
carried from your first birthday cake.
This can only be done by a gentle man
at the time of a full moon.


Rhona McAdam

Rhona blogs at iambic cafe