There are three young children at the center
of the photograph
of a classroom reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Actually a fourth, who we will return to
in the end,
is tip-toeing behind the middle child
and smiling unbridled at the photographer.
Nearest to the photographer's base, a girl
undoubtedly tall for her age,
stands precise and fixed in the praxis of
a Western monument.
Her eyes up and right toward the flag.
very young-looking and remiss,
Perhaps because she is farthest from us, appears
much smaller relatively.
But of course she is also slouching. And strangely
has her left hand instead of the right
barely feeling her heart.
And then we see the boy in a Ravens jersey.
of elementary embodiment,
Neither too serious nor too silly.
a responsibility is simply being fulfilled.
And in this candor of responsibility, he remains
so in the moment that
there is minor perturbation at the student behind him
tip-toeing and making standoffish faces;
From experience, even he is aware that turning
his head to look
would indubitably mean a time-out.
in the midst
of the pledge of allegiance.