report from monnickendam bridge

The weather's fine. The morning's healing sun
anoints the men reclaiming the long bench
that wintered by itself upon this bridge.
Some of them are grey, and all but one
are old enough (Korea?) that the trench
of warfare was familiar (Heartbreak Ridge?),
and is today, while conversations run
from fish to boats as if to block the stench
the news reminds them of, as if a midge
were biting through their eyelids like a ring
of the rockets testing Belgrade this fine spring.

Report from Monnickendam appeared in Möbius in November 1999.

Monnickendam is a historic village (it received city rights in 1365 A.D.) situated on the south-west coast of the Ijsselmeer (the former Zuiderzee) and 13 kilometres from Amsterdam.  It owes its name fact that neighbouring monks (monnicken) constructed the dike (dam) in the town centre in the 13th century.  The bridge mentioned in this poem has a fine view of the Ijsselmeer and also has two polished-wood benches where elderly gentlemen gather in the morning when weather permits.