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