My visiting mother-in-law
brought home from the grocery store a pack of powdered donuts
proffered with an air of majesty.
She has been chased by foreign armies with knives
has survived godless privation.
Even in peacetime her country is besieged by water.
It attacks from the air and of course from the sea.
Earth’s most precious resource is a murdering blunt instrument
as wide as all you have loved.
It tickles the top of the little sea wall then roars in
as if affronted at having been held at arm’s length,
wildly smashes your sturdy town aside in a fit of explosive chaos,
scream and splinter and mayhem
and domesticated animals crying out in their various languages. Uncontained water swarms the huiskamer, inundates the meadow
smugly occupies the lungs of your loved ones.
In the soaked and sunlit aftermath
apologetic colored weeds
hesitantly spring up through the frayed wreckage,
a crummy bouquet from the embarrassed drunk who beat you last night.
This water issue and the Big War
have given my mother-in-law’s country an angle on powdered donuts.
When I’m visiting, she will return from the village grocery
with an air of muted delight.
In the canvas bag with the rounded hothouse veggies
a demure little packet of powdered donuts six in a line
viewed through die-cut cardboard and cellophane like a museum window,
crown jewels on an ermine-covered cushion.
How to tell her?
She’s been here many times. I shouldn’t have to tell her.
My country is also surrounded by water,
through topographic whimsy we do not abide in a declivity.
We’re high and dry.
Foreign armies would have to march for thousands of miles
across the ocean floor to attack us.
We are not besieged.
We are a gigantic, swollen isthmus, comfortable and dazed.
We don’t eat donuts here, we take them like aspirin.