Peter Neil Carroll
The last Thursday in November…is the one day
that is purely American. — Sydney Porter (O’Henry)
After the turkey’s been sliced and eaten, my thoughts
turn to past Thanksgivings, hosting our open house,
the old folks gone, reading O’Henry aloud to the kids,
but now as adults they propose another post-prandial
binge, beyond boring pumpkin pie, to watch a TV series
aptly named The Americans about Russian spies,
based on ‘a true story’ — a New Jersey couple who
raised a typical suburban family as they seduced
clueless citizens and ferreted government secrets.
Aliens by birth and training, the characters adjust easily
to indigenous lifestyles — pizza, Coke, TV and hang out
over beers with their close neighbour, an FBI spy catcher.
Their parallel lives blur, as their children have crushes,
the real Americans divorce, and the fakers stick as true
lovers committed to the cold warrior code of violence.
Tending to home fires, the spooks conduct their crimes
with shameless guile — wear shades, wigs, beards, and lie
to all, and reveal a subtle expertise in killing their foes.
On this purely American day, nonetheless, I’m rooting for
the enemy, as the filmmakers apparently intend. Compared
to the counter-spies, the Ruskies treat each other kindly.
The liberated mother shares equally the thrill and danger
of fighting against a country run by dull men and grooms
her daughter in the fine arts of karate and espionage.
Even when trapped, our fugitives escape as smoothly as
Houdini slipped lock and chain. They are me in my wildest
fantasy of freedom, beating Big Brother and the gods of law.