a letter to America, on her birthday

From guest writer Erin Ammon, musing on Independence Day about her tortured romance with the mythical dream of America the Beautiful.

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photo by Kirsten Miller


You and I have known each other for a while now.

In the early days, it never ceased to amaze me how you could take any problem and solve it, bend fate to your will.

You were so beautiful, the way the sun reflected off of your rolling hills, and the way the wind blew across your body with rapture and fury.

I spent endless days listening to the stories you told of triumph and bravery and love. I even loved you in some fiery way, deep in my bones.

In high school, I wanted to be just like you.

I changed my hair and bought those boots you said would look so good on me, and I thought if I just changed the right things, you’d really love me, too.

It wasn’t until college that I stopped idolizing you so much. I still had some kind of insatiable lust for all our beautiful things, but those feelings were mingled with jealousy and disdain.

I saw you for the shallow, controlling, sneaky harlot you can be. I felt betrayed and idiotic when the veneer of all your glimmering gilding had worn thin.

I witnessed your pastures become dry and yellowed from years of neglect, along with generations of faithful lovers, cast into the tide of your salty ocean.

I wept for you, and I even considered leaving.

Now, I work in your home, a servant to the men who visit you in the early hours of the morning and whisper sweet nothings into your ear, only to disappear by sunrise.

I comfort the children while you lie in wait for another man to rescue you from your hateful condition.

And through all this misery,

I still love you. And I’ll probably still be here waiting when you’re finally ready to make a life with me.

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