allegiance

by Maggie Wang

Based on questions from the civics portion of the naturalization test for United States citizenship.

What is the supreme law of the land?

ask me where I’m from // go on / ask me // don’t / be afraid // I’m harmless

What does the Constitution do?

ask me where I’m really from // go on / ask me // I have no weapons / in my single suitcase // no money / no clothes / no food // only my voice // my voice // made for answering

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

ask me if I’m one of you // open my eyes / to the people // ask me / if I / can call them countrymen // don’t stop first / to think // if I / can turn the words / out from beneath my tongue / to give them // this nation // “indivisible” / “under god” // go on / ask me

What is an amendment?

ask me if I bought a return ticket // because this country / welcomes change // ask me / because you know // the answer // ask me / because I swore // to tell the truth // ask me / because you think // I’m lying // ask me

What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

but you won’t ask // you / take one look / & drive away // dust / sprinkles itself over my / uncreased eyelids // you laugh / roll up the smudged window // cocoon yourself / in leather & down & bullet casings // while I // linger // alone // under some heartless highway bridge

What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?

you won’t ask // because you know the answer / & won’t hear it // because you swore / to tell the truth / & don’t know how // maybe I should ask you / where you’re from // I wonder / if you’d answer // honestly

How many amendments does the Constitution have?

the silence between us ////////// rapturous // maybe it’s because you fear / I’ll make your language / foreign