Edward Snowden watches the corner of his monitor
and the opaque square
in the top right flickers, a live
stamp of inky blackness
that reminds him of the ultrasound video
—good god—of his sister’s…that cone of dark,
the sudden milky appearance of his niece
(a girl, they were convinced) her arm
so thin he touched his own as if in
allegiance. And as the scattered
satellite signal reconstitutes itself,
the Swat valley unfolds
under the slick eye
of the MQ-9 Reaper, unleashing a laser-guided
Hellfire missile toward Koza Drushkhela.
The camera eye trembles from the blast below
but doesn’t shut off. Most of these
feeds were running last week
when he checked Etsy for the baby shower
(yellow onesies, slings, a receiving blanket)
revealing what the Agency calls collateral damage bombing,
meaning the dissolution of uninteresting
or unthreatening limbs,
and in his head there lies
a medical textbook-sized
cache of concealed pics, as tightly sealed
as the lips of a sonographer,
who can’t speak about what she sees
on the screen, must defer
to the doctor, though the scan
may reveal a distinct lack
of motion. Which at first, it did.
Until his niece’s fingers began pointing,
waving to a world she doesn’t know
exists—and now something relentlessly
afraid of inertia rises up in him
as the drone circles back to Panjshir province,
and the cam re-sets and blanks into
a liquid landscape—
and he closes he eyes
into the blackened kaleidoscope of his sister’s baby—
and somewhere in that debris, in that dust—
as the static clears, a moment
is birthed. Enough.
The word enough.
A sour reek of jockstraps rises
around the Double-A team at airport security,
and I smile at the young men’s
camaraderie, their easy
muted laughter, which stand them
apart as a small country that believes in itself.
One guy grabs another’s cap—
My bloody lucky toque!—clean off
his shaved head and wigs it
up and away into the cavernous
airport firmament to tribal cheers, and I think of
World War One and how bored the men were
and how one wrote in a letter,
I’m looking for anything to happen; and how sometimes
I’m looking for anything to happen—yearning
to risk my life,
or just take a puck for
no other reason than perhaps Brotherhood.
As they yip and pitch the cap back and forth
I recall P.K. Subban leading
the pre-game practice of the Montreal Canadiens
in Buffalo, cannoning the puck at near-
impossible angles into the net, an ecstatic
geometry. When all at once
a frequent flier in a tall suit,
sleek trench-coat draped over his arm,
leans in, comradely, motions
to the two black women at the security desk
and says, Look at those monkeys!
And I feel something like a reversal
of falling in love. My body
the assembled Adonises,
where even an eyebrow raised
—even saying nothing—
will name me conspirator—
and I hear myself say, Monkeys?
My voice small. Does he even hear it?
The cap flicking past.
He jerks back. Someone up the row
moves. And one at a time
each of us inch our suitcases and bags,
—our human cargo
of eye-masks, pajamas, Cialis, sleeping pills—
toward the two women
in front of the X-ray machines,
one now frowning down over an open laptop,
her gold hoop earrings
like rogue Olympic rings,
and she looks up toward us,
tells us to lift our cases to the rack
—leave any liquids and aerosols,
or sharp objects—and come forward.
DEGAN DAVIS‘ poetry and non-fiction have appeared in The Globe And Mail, The Malahat Review, Riddle Fence, and The New Quarterly. What Kind Of Man Are You, his first book, is forthcoming from BRICK in 2018. He is currently working on a collection of essays about masculinity, femininity, and how to be a good man in this era.