Heather Hartley

I pledge allegiance, one under and indivisible,
under gorgeous eyes, my hand over my heart, bullets.

This is Victor my sovereign state and victory by my side,
the boy who stomps and starts through his native Marseillaise—

the seduction of blood and vile,
slit throats of sons and friends—

aux armes, citoyens—with just his desk between us
march and march on—far away from this dangerous impasse.

I’ve just come to tutor you
in my native humble tongue

your eyes the color of the sky of Lille—
ssshhhhh—the shutters are closed.

Oh Beautiful! O boy! Above the fruited plane,
I take dark bites from the corner of your lips with the corner of my eyes

and for a moment, and for amber waves of grain,
I feel that wicked twitch of l’entre deux jambes.

In the hush hush kingdom of your room,
all we need is a dictionary and some bottled water,

your lean lank, our anemone love.
All the little flags are flying in my heart.

Flagrant, you say, invincible, sadistic, supremacy—your words, not mine:
you’ve taken on my history.

Allons enfants de la Patrie, in this twin bed
thin enough for two under one cover, mon enfant,

we’re as innocent as that faun in the afternoon.

Let me put my mother tongue into your vernacular,
bitter, sweeter—a little better,

o my vulgar vulgar.

And in between my God and the flag and the fifty-one states,
Betsy Ross and your upstart coltish tongue,

let me love you from this side of the desk,
and with my pen, let me guide your hand.