Proximate Causes

The bright, whitewashed gables
The cozy brick facades
The square was full of folding tables,
Kids sloganeering and harrowing frauds.

He’d been riverside reading
About oil in Ecuador
She was stationed by the pipe store, pleading
For U.S. aid in the Sudanese war.

She said, “They’re raiding food trucks in Bahr-el-Ghazal.”
He said, “Weren’t you in my Spanish class last fall?”

He bought her a cappuccino
She gave him a sheet of facts
And as he left, he asked if she’d go
To Tuesday’s talk on petroleum tax.

They met up in the foyer.
They tried out each other’s names.
He was better dressed, and she was coyer,
But both felt inspired by the speaker’s claims.

He said, “I’ve asked some friends to my parents’ summer place.
They’re away this week, and it shouldn’t go to waste.”

On small-town steeples flickering through the trees
On tide pool cattails twitching in the breeze
Across the dashboard and on her bare, brown knees

A swim
To wash away that film of city grime
The lawn:
Touch football and croquet for those inclined
A driftwood bonfire cookout along the waterline

And with the last few dishes on the drying rack
And as the last, loud carload pulls away
He says, “I guess that we had better get you back.”
She says, “I guess. Or…maybe I could stay?”

He left her sleeping in bed
And took the paper out to the pool.
Thirteen Sudanese children dead
‘Cause they’d been sent to a Catholic school.