Ever since I discovered the poem “Good Bones,” I’ve been reading more poems by Maggie Smith. I found a copy of her volume Disasterology last November, but couldn’t read any farther for a while after I’d read the epigraph, by Michael O’Donoghue: “I guess you’d currently call it a disaster movie…End of the world was an earlier genre.”
When I could stand to go back to reading the poems in Disasterology, I discovered that the first section consists of a poem about each of these movies: When Worlds Collide, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, On the Beach, The Day After, Night of the Comet, The Quiet Earth, Armageddon, Time of the Wolf, and The Road. The second section, with an epigraph from Eudora Welty, “Never think you’ve seen the last of anything,” is about endings. The poem “Green” is in this section.
Fact: The threat level has never been lowered nationwide to Blue or Green.
By the time it was named, Green had gone the way
of dinosaurs and New Coke. Now the New York
afternoons are Orange. Evenings too.
Not creamsicle, but car flare. Everywhere else
is Yellow, which could be cheerful if it weren’t
so constantly elevated. If it weren’t piped like
Musak into every crevice. Today is a new day.
I’ve never seen it before, so it must qualify
as out of the ordinary. Maybe I should report it
to the authorities. In these perilous times,
I am vigilant. I take notice of my surroundings.
I am aware of each morning’s insurgence
of sunlight. At the real end of the unreal
world, if you see something, say something.
Green, had I known, I would have memorized
every last detail. I would have alerted everyone.
Every day is a new day, and now that means some of us wake up, often before the alarm, wondering what fresh hell might have been unleashed while we were sleeping.
But right now my jonquils and crocus are blooming at the same time, and the back garden is carpeted with little purple flowers.
Soon I’ll be taking a few days off from my puny efforts at trying to pull my country back from what feels like the brink of disaster, and I’m hoping that our trips through airports won’t be any more awful than long security lines and painful walking already guarantee.