Joyce Carol Oates

Rural District School #7, Ransomville, New York
Crumbling stone steps of the old schoolhouse
boarded-up windows shards of winking glass
Built 1898, numerals faint in the stone as shadow
Through a window, obedient rows of desks mute
How many generations of this rocky countryside grown & gone
How many memories & all forgotten
& soon to be razed & goodbye America
The flagless pole, what relief!
I love it, the eye lifting skyward to nothing
Never to pledge allegiance to the United States of America
Never to press my flat right hand over my heart again
as if I had one

© 1995 by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates of Princeton, New Jersey, has most recently authored the novel What I Lived For (Dutton), The Perfectionist and Other Plays (Ecco Press), and, under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, the psychological suspense novel You Can't Catch Me (Dutton).