Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Camouflage

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Camouflage

Article excerpt

CAMOUFLAGE

The poem that argues successfully against death

finds its place in the book you can buy

in stores that do not sell poetry.

If it's a bad poem, and it is,

does that really matter? Sorrow

doesn't want the truth, doesn't need

to think. I know what you're feeling,

the poem confides, whispering it

like a friend. Promises were made,

then broken. Exactly how did we expect

the world to work? Reality, Walker Evans said,

is not totally real. When I call

the Automated Flight Information System

I'm told: "It's OK to say 'I don't know.'"

But I don't. There are other ways

to check on a plane. A chickadee, trapped

beneath the plastic netting that keeps

the deer from eating our bushes, flutters

and thrashes. All she has to do

is let herself fall, then walk away.

If she were a person, and the net

a metaphor for other entanglements,

odds are she'd still be struggling. …

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