One didn’t know the name of Tarzan’s monkey.
Another couldn’t strip the cellophane
From a GI’s pack of cigarettes.
By such minutiae were the infiltrators detected.
By the second week of battle
We’d become obsessed with trivia.
At a sentry point, at midnight, in the rain,
An ignorance of baseball could be lethal.
The morning of the first snowfall, I was shaving,
Staring into a mirror nailed to a tree,
Intoning the Christian names of the Andrews Sisters.
‘Maxine, Laverne, Patty.’
from Dances Learned Last Night (Picador, 2000), copyright © Michael Donaghy 2000, used by permission of the author and Macmillan Publishers.