WILLIAM McKINLEY

by Chantel Tattoli

 

Some people think the flag is made of blue jeans and gingham. It isn’t. It’s sapphires, diamonds and rubies from the old world. It’s bruises and pus and blood.

For you our stripes are manna and wine, and swag over your speeches like theater curtains. Forty-five stars, William, like forty-five eyes a’sparkle. Forty-five small, strobing stars of Bethlehem to show the way.

It’s 1900. America’s calling herself “a World Power” for the first time. Mr. President, your own power is second only to the Russian Czar. And here you are, a pink carnation in your lapel. How is it you are the most traveled president yet? We should like to know if it is a question of spine or of heart, because there is nothing the matter with your lungs.

Next year, weeks into your second term, bullets will not do their job either. But gangrene will patina your wounds. Another American president turns historic figure; someone standing between the columns of the South Portico; a child in adoring white arms.

We hold to the wrought iron on Pennsylvania. We, the people, still so disappointed.

 

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Chantel Tattoli’s work has appeared recently or will at Guernica, The Rumpus, and Hobart. She is at work on a cultural biography of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue. Read the next story, THEODORE ROOSEVELT, here.

* thanks to Amber Sparks and Brian Carr for their editorial work on this project.

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