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Thursday, March 17, 2022


by Katherine Smith

Bruce MacKinnon editorial cartoon February 10, 2022.

The best moment of my day
happened two hours after
I packed my black puppy into the car
when I screamed yes!
when the guy from triple A turned the key in the jammed lock,
a fine moment for human ingenuity. Twenty minutes later
I was driving down the Beltway behind a thousand trucks, a banquet
of American flags rippled from the empty cabs
of eighteen wheelers, a freightless load
of freedom fluttered in the exhaust filled air.
My puppy whimpered in the back seat.
Horns honked. Don’t tread on me,
in brilliant yellow, the red maple leaf
of Canadians blurred the air. On the overpasses
a few lone bodies waved as the trucks drove under.
I searched for my exit. Put my hand in the back seat to comfort the puppy
headed away from the capitol towards the country.
I am afraid of stupidity
whether it is driving an empty truck
around the Beltway at rush hour
to protest a mask mandate
while fuel is 4 and a half dollars a gallon
while people are dying in Ukraine
or a student is crying because she has 85 0000
of student loan debt. I didn’t used to be so judgmental
when I had more stupid of my own
when I fled my friends to meet a lover in Boston
whom they despised for good reason
and ruined my life for a couple of years. No one minds
their own stupid even when it distracts them
from the fact that people are dying. Even when I,
a woman who happens to be perfectly sensible today
looks at the convoy
and knows in her bones
that this is what stupid looks like. I keep driving away.
Maybe brilliance is nothing more than enough
hopeless blindness to kill the world
everywhere for everyone. Still,
when I get out of the car the sweetness
of daffodils spills through the air. So far human ingenuity
hasn’t reached the mountain or the reflection
of the moon in the James River.

Katherine Smith’s recent poetry publications include appearances in Boulevard, North American Review, Mezzo Cammin, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and many other journals. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press) appeared in 2014. She works at Montgomery College in Maryland.