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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Friday, May 07, 2010

Listening to TV at the fitness center...


Morning in America

What draws you to them at first is the nicknames
they have for each other and their little jokes, like
the remark the woman makes to her co-host
about his tie, then apologizes and even touches it
so she seems to more than like him, and why not,

he's handsome in a regular-guy, unthreatening
sort of way, and when they all come back
from a commercial, you almost wonder whether
the blonde who does the news might be a little
jealous, given how she keeps it up about the tie,

or maybe you think just for an instant, how is it
possible for him to watch her all dressed up in her
serious costume to read the news each morning
and not sometimes think of her "in that way,"
but when you happen to catch it the next morning,

she brings in pictures of her baby, and you say
wait a minute, she has a whole other life
off the set, this is a job and these people
are professionals, the newswoman herself,
for openers, reading right through the bad news

about all the shoppers who blew up in the open
market in Iraq and the shocking statistics about
obesity in the United States, unable no matter
how hard she tries to avoid a touch of sadness
on her face, as if what can she do besides continue

to be thin and appealing herself, which is when
you really appreciate the fat laughing guy
who does the weather because you can be serious
for just so long, and anyway there's always a silver
lining in every dark cloud, like he says, for instance

the ones hovering right here over the Midwest,
gesturing toward the cloud graphic spinning
into place, and even though everybody groans
over his corny joke including the ones behind
the camera you can't see, it sort of speaks

for the whole show, OK, the rock star can come on
to pitch her new CD but not without talking about
how she overcame depression and drug use,
and the man selling the book about his mother's
Alzheimer's has to explain how forgetting

who she was made them closer, since basically
this is all about helping you, looking in, deal with
whatever life throws at you, as the male co-host
puts it, turning between guests to his partner
while she nods thoughtfully under her hair, because

she doesn't really think of this as a job, she should be
paying the network, she says, not the other way around,
though right now they have to go to a commercial
again not just one, of course, but ten or fifteen,
the same old thing of models pretending

they are amazed housewives or sick husbands
or doctors in lab coats saying buy this,
buy that, so you can't wait to get back
to some human beings who care about each other
and about us, and who are who they really are.

--Wesley McNair, from Lovers of the Lost: New and Selected Poems. © David R. Godine, 2010.

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