Old Europe Stared at Her Breakfast

(US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed those European countries which opposed the US attack on Iraq as only 'Old Europe')

Old Europe stared at her breakfast,
buttered her croissant, sipped coffee
which tasted like a gun
and blinked her grey eyes to restore the sun.
Old Europe grasped at the old A.J.P. Taylor
line, 'but in politics the impossible
always happens' more and more, hoped
for example, that the fact that the 'plant'
for weapons in Northern Iraq was shown
on the BBC an empty ex-Media
Centre, and miles away a plain village,
hoping not to be bombed, because by
mistake young Colin, who apparently
mistook often, used its name
at the UN as that of the 'plant',
would be accepted as a fact and then
protected, thought Old Europe
as her France loved to protect facts,
as her Germany to act, or her Belgium to be. But,
she reflected, in doubt and in debt,
the future is not an ally
over the sea which just needs to be
convinced but a masked soldier, dead
to Agincourt, Darmstadt, Verdun,
wanting oil and meat and not
understanding how a continental breakfast
keeps the blood in your head, your brain
not your gut. Old Europe set her spine
straight in the doorway sun. Her hand
crumbled bread as if it were old bone.

 

Jennifer Maiden, "Old Europe Stared at Her Breakfast" from Intimate Geography: Selected Poems, 1991-2010. Copyright © 2012 by Jennifer Maiden.  Reprinted by permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd..
Source: Intimate Geography: Selected Poems, 1991-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012)
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