May Swenson

Here you will find the Poem The Lowering of poet May Swenson

The Lowering

The flag is folded 
lengthwise, and lengthwise again, 
folding toward the open edge, 
so that the union of stars on the blue 
field remains outward in full view; 
a triangular folding is then begun 
at the striped end, 
by bringing the corner of the folded edge 
to the open edge; 
the outer point, turned inward along the open edge, 
forms the next triangular fold: 
the folding continued so, until the end is reached, 
the final corner tucked between 
the folds of the blue union, 
the form of the folded flag is found to resemble that 
of a 3-cornered pouch, or thick cocked hat. 

Take this flag, John Glenn, instead of a friend; 
instead of a brother, Edward Kennedy, take this flag; 
instead of a father, Joe Kennedy, take this flag; 
this flag instead of a husband, Ethel Kennedy, take this flag; 
this 9-times-folded red-white-striped, star-spotted-blue flag, 
tucked and pocketed neatly, 
Nation, instead of a leader, take this folded flag. 
Robert Kennedy, coffin without coverlet, 
beside this hole in the grass, 
beside your brother, John Kennedy, 
in the grass, 
take, instead of a country, 
this folded flag; 
Robert Kennedy, take this 
hole in the grass.