You look so put together sitting
in front of the cameras. A phrase
so unprofessional the poem may want
to reject it. Let’s say poised instead.
Sure of who you are, what you know.
The President’s texting as you speak.
Trying to unseat you. A month or so
ago your mother died. A poet, you know,
who knew you as a girl, posted this.
Now we can see your unshakeable
grief. At losing her but not her story.
Disappointment at what our American
congressmen and women want to do
with you. Gentle this and gentle that
is the chairperson’s designation.
For who is addressing you. A few feet
from where you sit. Although
a camera’s angle makes it seem,
as if the space isn’t as human,
as it is. Any one of them could reach
across the well of an aisle.
Could even wave to you,
when the camera isn’t watching.
Invent a new decorum. For what it means
to be American, ambassadorial.
To take a post overseas. Representing
what is of value. A poem has to question.
But not what you did. The notes you took.
The danger you served in. And what
your heart remembers.
Your mother’s first and second languages.
The accent you must have heard.
Her waving from the window.
Gary Margolis is Emeritus Executive Director of College Mental Health Services at Middlebury College. His third book, “Fire in the Orchard” was nominated for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize Poetry. His latest book “Time Inside” is recently published.