Across Europe and beyond

by Divina
Honorable Mention, March 2012
Judged by John Timpane

a man’s about to fall in love.
In the metro, air exhaled in unison

with cloud movement, a woman
stops to ask for directions.
Hallelujah plays.

The city where we loved each other.

I’ll give you the moon and the sun
one large-winged bird, Jonathan dreaming.
Winter isn’t so bad after all.

At noon big cities look alike. At night bare
branches and truth sway in wind. Imagine

humans turning into deer. Love
is weird. Have you seen such a sky before?
But you don’t really care for poetry, do you?

a woman’s about to fall
out of love. Someone is born,

someone dies. People will live
much longer, small towns
will become ghost towns,

people will migrate more and more.
They didn’t mention wars.

Have a sandwich with anything you like.

I like the dark sweep of this poem. It’s hard to avoid the certainty that somewhere, across Europe and beyond, there really is a man about to fall into, and a woman about to fall out of, love. We feel how far apart the man and the woman are . . . even if they are a couple, or even if they are anywhere in Europe or beyond. Threads run among the lines, references to Leonard Cohen and Chris Rea tunes, including a (deliberately) revamped line, But you don’t really care for poetry, do you? which could be the speaker of the song, re-singing it, or the poet speaking to any reader at all. These are songs, we feel, that people in or wanting to be in, or remembering what it was like to be in, then fall out, of love, listen to . . . and there grows, throughout the only apparently disjointed imagery, a sense of personal history, expanding, in the accelerating, widely telescoping last nine lines, a sense of world and human history, migrations, births, deaths, and (but this was not mentioned) wars. And then, as if out of self-consciousness, the rug is pulled out from under the poem with the last line. This poem both abjures a cohesive center and creates one, both fragments a sense of history and cements one. Lovely. ---John Timpane