The Age of Reason
The coverof the Times—a caféwindow, shotthrough, wine glassesintact. The fashionbloggers and concertgoers, the wineconnoisseurs, thought firstof the gun shots, dullacross the citynight, nothing.Gang violence again,that ordinary reflexrehearsed. So we makeof sufferinga still life. Thisis not human,said the Popeafter. This is notwhat we do. But.The we who drinkthe aperitif—spiritto stimulate the appetite,dry, not sweet—lean forward. In 1943Paris, German soldiersapplauded Cocteau, Sartre.Camus flourished. Artmarched on. Sweet,some said of lifein an occupiedcountry. Evening strollsalong the Champs-Élysées.Piaf serenadingthe brothels,stuffing herselfon chocolate and pâté.How silverware stillheld its officeon the smartest of tables.Yet the women who atefrom Germanplates—Parisparaded them nakedin the streets. Paintedswastikas acrosstheir chests. Yes,it feels goodto be right. Weare hungry for it,the clumsy lesson.In stadiums,still, English soccer fansslosh their beer,spread their arms widefor the Germans, imitatingthe bombersthat left their countrya ruin to be proud ofand it is marvelousto see so many mennearly alight. They feedfrom each other,don't they, beauty,disaster. Afterthe blasts, childrenfilled the stadium.Faces painted blue,white, red. Sweet.And across Niagara Fallsthe lights shonethe French flag's colorstumbling, alongsideus, down.
Copyright © 2021 by Corey Van Landingham.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 The Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award, and Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens, forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Her poems have been published in Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Iowa Review, The New Yorker, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Illinois.
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