Heavens to Betsy
by Betsy Mars

Seamlessly stitched into my schoolgirl psyche,
dull and domestic, Betsy waved the flag,
helpful and submissive
as all Good Girls were meant to be.
Entering the new Age of Aquarius
the stars were realigning;
at thirteen, like the colonies,
I fought for independence.

Fabrication is not my way as I tend my double standard,
bearer of few domestic skills. My cloth is
threadbare, patched and coming apart at the seams.
Trying to redeem myself:
another Betsy lost in space and time,
weaving symbolism as I go.

Plucky, practical, and patriotic the famous Betsy was.
Apocryphal, a tale charming but unsubstantiated.
Me, by George, another subject altogether.
An unfolding story still striving for substance.
Living precariously under a charmed star,
striving to earn my stripes.

IMAGE: Betsy Ross (1752-1836), the woman credited with making the first American flag after a visit from George Washington in 1776.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was struggling to think of anyone with the same name other than inanimate objects (a gun, a magic bus) or farm animals (particularly cows). The obvious choice was Betsy Ross, with whom I feel I have little in common except for a respect for George Washington and a sort of can-do spirit. As I did some research, I discovered, to my naïve disappointment, that there is a lot of reason to doubt that she actually is responsible for that first flag. I have been experiencing a lot of shattered illusions in the time since 9/11 and so I am beginning to take it in stride. This led to a contemplation about the differences between the times we live in and what kind of legacy I might leave.

Mars (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a southern California poet, mother, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. She is conducting a thorough self-examination and writing is part of the process. Her name has been a source of embarrassment more than pride, although she is currently starting to come to terms with it.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken on a giddy evening before dinner on the cliffs in Palos Verdes, California.