In a Beautiful Country
By Kevin Prufer
A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.
Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.
Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.
The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds
into your drink. It doesn't matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,
then down you'll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,
the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.
A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don't worry
about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You're thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.
"I live in a tiny town in Missouri, about 10 miles down Highway 50 from Whiteman Air Force Base. Several times a day, a B-2 bomber flies above my classroom, rumbling, beautiful and terrifying," writes Prufer in Poet's Choice. "During the run-up to the Iraq War, I felt a palpable sort of tension in the local restaurants, the coffee shop, the Wal-Mart down the highway. On the one hand, we were quick to express patriotic feelings, nationalistic pride and a desire for revenge after 9/11. On the other hand, our military adventures, recounted endlessly on TV, would have very real, measurable impacts on our lives. [This poem] was born out of this anxiety and tension. In retrospect, those feelings of pride, ably manipulated by our own government and media, seem sinister. I suppose the 'gold-haired girl' in the poem represents to me not the 'beautiful country' of the poem's title, but an impostor version of that country we came to trust, a lovely voice distracting us from the truth of war, death and political incompetence."
The weather reports Friday night said that we'd get a couple of inches of snow on Saturday. "A couple" turned out to be about, oh, six. It started in the morning just as Adam was heading for Hebrew school to volunteer and Daniel was heading for robotics; both were dismissed early, and the county closed all school buildings for the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday because there was so much ice on the roads. I never even left the house, letting Paul pick up the kids while I did laundry, coded and uploaded a bunch of stuff, and made sure the cats stayed off the heating vents. Here's what things looked like from our doorways:
In the evening Paul made lentil and couscous pilaf with yellow and green squash for dinner, then admitted he'd been in the mood to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone since we got back from the exhibition in Boston. I never say no to Harry Potter, though I liked the first two movies less than the next four, and I haven't seen the first one all the way through in several years -- certainly not since I read the seventh book. I still love the adults in it but it completely creeps me out seeing pre-teen Ginny talking to pre-teen Harry, and Hermione is totally Ron's mother; I knew Harry married the popular red-haired girl with the big family for obvious reasons, but I never thought before about Ron's mother issues, which I think are more pathological than Harry's even though Harry's the one with the huge family trauma in his past. Draco is somehow much less unnerving as a little boy than the trio.