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Creative Writing

Poem: Walk with me through America

<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/izzyuan99/" target="_self">Izzy Yuan</a>

Izzy Yuan

June 9, 2022
“Walk with me through America, don’t look back.”

Darkness surrounds my left and right.

So instead I look straightforward. I begin to see crowds of people cheering. Their roars rumble in my ears, making the ground shake, making me tremble in excitement. I witness a sea of colors, fiery wisps of blue, black, red, yellow and green fill the sky, waving excitedly at me. In the distance, a torch burns brightly, held high in an athlete’s firm grasp, like a new star in the night sky. Five rings adorn the sides; it’s exhilarating.

Red and white stripes surround me, outlined with a navy blue so dark, that it shimmers in the dim lights. On their tracksuit sleeves waves the star-spangled banner. Different shades and hues of skin under red, white, and blue patriotism, pouring out together like amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty; it’s unbound.

National pride shines in their eyes. One nation, indivisible. Their bright orbs tell a story: the hardships of war, the losses and victories of the century, all shaped together to form our future. From the landing of the first pilgrims to revolutions and civil movements, ancestors shaped the country like a potter shapes clay. As I lean in closer, red, white and blue puffs of smoke and streamers start pouring from the sky. The audience responds in a deafening battle cry, full of anticipation, U.S.A., U.S.A.; it’s stupefying.

But what’s behind me?

“Walk with me through America, don’t look back.”

The crowds dissipate and darkness blocks my view ahead.

So instead I turn to my left. Once again, I’m met with the sight of hoards of people. But something feels different. They don’t radiate the same sense of joy and pride as before. I see signs and masks and fists all reaching for the sky as if they’re calling upon something. I can taste the tear gas as it shoots through the air. It burns my throat and stings my eyes leaving me blind and dumb. My hands planted on the rough, cement ground … Voices crescendo yelling “Floyd” and demands to “say their names” reach my ears; it’s spectral.

They’re calling for change. Criticizing former methods and embracing the new. A fresh start to the oldest democracy, an eye in the center of the storm. Rainbow flags billow proudly in the sky. The violence of silence is deafening. But an ear-splitting boom fills the civil streets. My mind clouds, my eyes haze over; it’s disorienting.

I open my eyes to see groups of people kneeling. I see a clear face. A girl stands. Her eyes bore into the crowd. They appear sullen and filled with tears of gloom and determination. Still she stands, projecting an ambience of majesty. But something seems to be slowly decaying; it’s galvanizing.

But what’s behind me?

“Walk with me through America, don’t look back.”

A whirlwind blows, pushing me away from the crowds of scattering people.

On my right I catch sight of a house. A large white domed house. A Capitol guarded by armed men. The atmosphere is stifling and the air is quiet, so quiet that I can hear a pin drop. The silence is broken by the sound of a falling fence. A surge of anger fills the air as a stampede of people break through a line of defense. In the corner or my eye, a confederate flag looms, casting a shadow, eating up light. A certification turned into insurrection; it’s chilling.

Cowering from the overload of sensations, I look down at my feet. The ground is littered with medical masks, trampled and torn in half. I look at the date: January 6, 2021. Suddenly a flame sparks and glass shatters. With my watch, I rush to turn back time. A sign hits my arm, and I misjudge how much time I rewind; it’s drifting.

I arrived. The hallway is lit but the air feels empty, suffocating. A lone officer stands guard, hiding the panic that bubbles inside of him as a mob of supremacists barrel towards him. These men repeatedly ignored the officer’s commands, yet, no one was shot nor harmed. The officer exercised extraordinary restraint of force. A good man, an American hero but; it’s lonely.

But what’s really behind me?

Finally, curiosity takes over me, and I swivel around.

I gasp in horror.

A burning cross towers before me. Figures in white hoods chant strange sayings. A trail of tears leads to a noose, strung high, where all can see. People are chained, concentrated in camps where children pledge allegiance to a flag with liberty and justice for all but them. People isolated because of something they didn’t do, because of their appearance, because of their beliefs. A loud cannonade discombobulates my hearing, ears ringing. Two sides face off, like siblings over the right to shotgun. A union divided. Bodies scattered. Peace disrupted; it’s silent.

I get up and stroll to the beginning, a child is waiting for me there.

“Walk with me through America, don’t look back.”