We Are Busy Sewing the Flags of Our Children
Barry Basden


Rain blows past the blanket hanging in the window and puddles on the floor. We have brought our defeated flags out of hiding. I lay mine on the table under the naked bulb and unstitch the swastika from its red background while Marthe cuts a pathetic little hammer and sickle from her yellow dress. She sews it in the upper left corner, and the first one is done.


We use what scraps of cloth we can find for the others: old sheets, my red tablecloth, the widow’s blue apron. The French tricolor’s vertical stripes are easy but we must research the dictionary for the Union Jack, all crosses and angles. Then we take on the meticulous stars of the Americans. Forty-eight? Or forty-nine?

Through it all, we gossip like a kaffeeklatsch, missing only the coffee and cakes. We need to tell our stories, to question each other. When was the first time? Where did they catch you? How many? How often? It helps to say these things.

Little Inge, across from me in her shabby coat, says she is pregnant. I am late, too, but I am convinced my inner ‘no’ has saved me. I refuse to see the doctor.



Barry Basden lives with his wife and two yellow Labs in the Texas hill country. His writing has appeared in many fine places. He is coauthor of CRACK! AND THUMP: WITH A COMBAT INFANTRY OFFICER IN WORLD WAR II and edits Camroc Press Review. The river, alas, has stopped flowing through his little town.