The war, before me, unfolds
with the flag, chills of inhumanity
roll up my back and bunch
in my shoulders after clearing
my parents’ shelves of mementos,
Japanese and Russian knick-knacks,
hand-painted Imari and little,
black lacquered boxes. I feel myself
become oppressed, cornered
and cowering before this muslin
flag, indoors for more than three
score years—not one frayed thread
unfolded by squares of bright red,
around a clean quarter-circle of white
with one bent, black limb
of Hitler’s swastika. St. Vith?
my son somewhere in Belgium.
Refolded, what does a man do
with such a prize? Give it away,
sell it on ebay, or keep it hidden
with his guns and ammunition?