by Lowell Jaeger
Ask that man to pass the potatoes,
Mom said, elbowing me to get it done.
Dad, I’d say, please pass the potatoes.
My parents had stepped back from the brink
of a melt-down, closed their embassies
and retreated to their own sovereign soils.
I shared a border with both quarreling
nations, and the wall between them
ran right through me. Pass the salt,
Dad said. Mom stiffened and pretended
not to hear. So I passed the salt.
I passed the gravy. I sent my couriers
on their bicycles, pedaling as fast as they could.
I dug a bomb shelter in my head
and hunkered there, my transistor radio
pressed to my ear. So much static, so little
reliable news. Nikita and Ike slammed
doors. There was a button somewhere.
One wrong move and the planet could blow.