Picture Window


March wind shudders
against the glass, shattering
sun and shadows of leaves
into moving mosaics on the wood floor.
Outside, the morning breaks,
almost too bright to bear.
It’s Monday. I let the dog out.

Orange juice, toast, egg, coffee,
the usual. Feed the dog, feed
the cats, the usual. NBC streams
accents heavy with CsZsWs and Ys,
commercials celebrate Progressive,
Gain. On the screen, grey clouds boil,
cities are cratered moonscapes.

Devastation scaled to fit
a 43-inch box. A gust from the East
rattles the glazing in the casement.
Across the street, I see my neighbors’
home: a post-war ranch, ancient twisted oak,
yard bright with dandelions.
A sharp air current tugs the man’s sleeve.

I blink and see his house reduced
to splinters and bricks, flaming, smoke
blown to meet scudding clouds. I see the woman
twisted into a swastika lying on the gravel drive.
I turn away. It is too late. War has leaked
in and made my picture window
a double exposure.

I drive to work. As usual. The pine trees gleam
and bow to the power of March weather.
Litter along the highway lifts, airborne missiles.
Beyond my windshield,
the yellow school bus far ahead of me
shrinks into an ocean of blue sky
on this perfect Spring day.

About the Poem

“Picture Window” juxtaposes routine middle-class life in the US and the dire and desperate events in Ukraine. It is meant to illustrate the sudden knowledge that there is no such thing as the “other”. There is only “us”. Complacency collapses as the speaker realizes that none of us is safe.

About the Author

Jane Andrews holds a degree in Creative Writing from NC State University and is a past board member of the NC Poetry Council and of Carolina Wren Press. She is currently a reader for the journals Mud Season Review and Months to Year. She has published poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Jane Andrews facilitates writing courses and is a freelance editor.

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