Later, at the reception, I saw my beautiful ex-wife,
wearing a simple black dress
that showed off her beautiful neck
standing next to a guy I would like to call
her future second ex-husband.
A long time since she and I had been extinct,
but still I found inside myself an urge
to go over and tell her one more time
it wasn't my fault—
and struggled for a moment with that
Upstairs, looking for a place to be alone,
I found a television, turned on and abandoned in a room,
churning out pictures and light against a wall—
Images of crowds, marching down streets, past
burning, overturned cars; people in robes,
gathered outside embassies and throwing stones.
Even with the sound off,
not even knowing the name of the country,
I thought that I could understand
what they were protesting about,
what had made them so angry:
They wanted to be let out of the TV set;
They had been trapped in there, and they wanted out.
Tony Hoagland's most recent book of poems is What Narcissism Means to Me.
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