52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

Bridge of Spies (2015), which came second,
which I saw first, revealed to me

that the Cold War's threat
of nuclear annihilation, one main thing

keeping me from sleep
my early teenage years,

was a game played by little boys.
I have raised boys and was one.

I know.
Tinker, though, is text-as-game,

as all texts could conceivably be
understood (this one not excepted),

it too a story of little boys,
its sophistication fun for those with skill

to follow its moves, as I like to think I am.
(I confess I looked for a synopsis

halfway through, movie on pause.)
Complexity in thought

yields preservation of the faculties.
So some studies suggest.

But by what? Five years? Ten?
There are no mothers in the movie,

no fathers. What drives the principles
is longing for love. Is that it?

Are the white nationalists now
holding our country in thrall, who

separate mothers from children,
change maps for the sake

of electoral advantage, gather troops
and funds for undeclared war, lie and

lie and lie moved to do so
because they loved someone

who didn't love them back?
These men who appear to us as if

out of a vacuum, with no history
we remember, are they like Smiley,

standing at the window,
at a Christmas party, looking around

for the one they claim to love?
There she is, outside, in the arms of another.

He turns away, his lower lip tucked in,
slightly, his eyes newly wet.

He is stricken. He makes plans.
He's the hero of the movie.

What's his history? What's empty
inside him? Where are his kids?

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