top of page

Oath Ceremony

The morning after the afternoon I confirmed my brother’s irreversible rag heart, I accompanied my husband to be sworn in as a U.S. Citizen.

Here I am: in the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony Room.

Coldplay is playing in the U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony Room.

Pictures of children and elderly faces from evidently distant places hang on the walls,

and I wonder—while knowing the answer—if the same pictures hang from the walls

of every one of these U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony Rooms.

Now I hear: U2’s It’s a Wonderful Day.

Music not background music, photos not background photos, Coldplay followed by U2, old Russian Jewish immigrants, young female Asian immigrants, Black child Muslim immigrants.

White immigrants not on display because they do not feed tactical need to display.

Meanwhile, the music sounds real and the photos depict real. Real photos of real people

in every real U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony Room across this unreal purple land.

I dare to believe it all, after all, to feel good about it, after all.

I allow myself surprise at the sweetness of the ceremony’s intention, the deliberate design of celebration at 7:44 a.m.. My husband and the other soon-to-be citizens sit in the front while I recline in the far back—as if someone here knows that I only occupy final rows.

And what will he say, I sit and think. What words will my husband repeat after me to become an irreversible citizen of U.S. of A.

What words will form his oath.

Will his oath be worded by domination. Will I have to listen to more words of torment, more words like the ones my brother shot at me in another crowded room, yesterday afternoon—

our mother must establish a protocol,

you cannot run things,

the board is a sham,

you are not qualified,

you must step down.

He: sitting before me, bound by his plastic bag skin. I thought to mention how both our mother and I were too busy cleaning up the ruinous effects of his ill-conceived debts to design him a protocol. But then: the permanent dent on his forehead from where his tumor was wrested dug at me deep, dug at me dense.

So I said—okay. Sure, great ideas, hermano.

And left.