THE FLAGS WE RAISE

He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.”  Francis Bacon

Named after his Dutch grandfather, Ruth,
pronounced root, whose name was changed
by an Ellis Island gatekeeper, Rutger

has no freckles or pale skin, but black
on black eyes slanted and long-lashed,
hair that swings with its own smooth-cuticled

weight.  It could have been different genetically:
before Chinese, the Dutch colonized Taiwan,
then called Formosa, where my son was born,

and so he could have had something of that
other land in him, but to look at him, you’d
swear not.  That face, round like an islander’s,

with a graceful flat nose, you’d think Polynesian
before Chinese, and yet that might be the biggest
legacy the Dutch left Taiwan: they encouraged

Han Chinese immigration t the Island country
off China’s coast, and later, it seemed reasonable
for China’s government to relocate itself there.

Today, whose land this is is still a question,
but whose child this is is not: Ruth, who  traded
his name for the possibilities of this place, had

a daughter, who had a son, my husband, who
clained this boy in a country that understands
nuance and complexity in ways the West does not,

can also claim the way this boy and his mottled
background changes us: where once our ancestors
visited and stole, today – though some declaim

this is another kind of stealing – we surrender
to a raonbow’s soft demarcations into colors
outside of history or place.  When I say Rutger,

I hear Kuan Lu.  When I say Kuan Lu, I hear
beautiful boy.  When I say beautiful boy, a flag
is raised in my chest that belongs to no country,

but the one all hostages to fortune live in, one
with no borders, which can not be escaped from,
and of which there is no government, only taxes.

death, and what pleasures we steal along the way.

Laura McCullough

One Response

  1. Wonderful ending!

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