Wednesday Poem


When your country has been a bad citizen again
and you’re a little ashamed of her,
as you were of your four-year-old
when she threw another tantrum at the mall,
and you wanted to pretend you didn’t know her,
that you weren’t responsible for her bad behavior,
a citizen of the world, as you wish she would be.

Still her mountains glow in the late evening sun,
and your neighbors, who voted to support her arrogance,
smile kindly when you greet them, and you’re moved,
observing their obvious affection for each other,
how he pulls up her collar against the chill breeze
and she smooths back his comb-over again and over.

You saw this in Cincinnati and again in Darfur,
people being conscious and considerate of others,
and you wonder how we ever draw the line
about whom we choose to comfort and whom
it might be quite permissible to kill

by Dan Gerber
from A Primer on Parallel Lives