monologue for a disillusioned soldier’s wife.

This week has been ridiculous, time-wise, and I haven’t had the opportunity to write something specifically for this blog. Instead, I’m posting the rough-as-guts first draft of something. This is a performance poem/monologue written for a project we’re completing for the ABC that has sprung from the Afghanistan war and the ways in which modern technology (Skype, email etc) mean there’s no paper trail between families/civilians and soldiers in the war. We don’t really know exactly what form the project will take place in – part of the joy of finding out – so at the moment we’re developing a series of responses to material we’ve been handed, our own research and brainstorming.

Preamble over.

Bright light
Pale white heat bouncing down off harsh linoleum and back up dead into my eyes
Carving lines
Harsh topography deep through my skin
I can see
In the bland reflection of the supermarket fridge
That I look like shit
White heat framing my face
A traitor line of fat pressed cosy underneath my chin
Sick black circles nested deep round my eye-sockets
And I can see
You
At the door
Holding your bags
That face expectant
Waiting
Taut and framed
Like you’d never left –
How absurd.

I am standing, stone still and stupid
As a farmhouse cow
In one of those hugging machines
That Temple Grandin made
– to calm them down,
ready for death –
And I am at war
With myself
Over brands of yoghurt
When I realise that I have stopped loving you.

It’s not your fault
I think
As I pretend, in vain
To investigate the dietary benefits of Jalna –
“Taste the pot set difference!”
– we just grew apart
As people tend to do
Only literally, here
Instead of emotionally
And the distance –
Nine thousand, five hundred and ninety-seven point five-eight kilometres, approximately
–  has pulled me away from you.

And it hasn’t been easy
And it’s selfish to say
You’re in a desert
I think
Somewhere arid
I mean, I think it’s arid
Is the Middle East arid?
It’s landlocked
Without sea or river or –
So I presume it is, I mean –
Beside the point
Right
Okay
Well
Anyway
It’s landlocked
Like me

Clenched knees, clawed hands
Holding my onto my yoghurt
My bifidus regularis life preserver
And my sick, stupid face
And some Skype meeting with you
In an hour
Only I don’t think I can bare it:

You
And your buddies
In pixelated glory
Beers clutched in hand
Your friend
Mike? Mitch? Munted.
Pretending to fuck your helmet
Sweat pouring down his unkempt face
Cock out
A blessed blur
As you pull the laptop away
And you
Playing at shame
“Come on”
“Come on guys”
“That’s my lady”.

And what a cliché
That strikes me as
How I was never your lady
Your girlfriend, sure
A good fuck, most definitely
A bitch on the rag, well –
But not anyone’s “lady”.

And it wasn’t the sex –
Tired, uncomfortable
MacBook balanced on my sweaty calves
Reaching down to readjust the camera
To a better angle
To hide my slight paunch
The one I’ve always had
The one you never seemed to mind
The one that’s suddenly accentuated
In 1280 by 1024
Pretending to enjoy
Your genital violence
Pressed hard against your hand
As you search for release
Silently
So as not to wake your “buddies” –

Nor the communication
In fact, it was easier
In a sense
Smiling sadly at my friends –
“He’s gone, and I don’t know when he’ll be back” –
But something else entirely.

The funny thing is
And you’ll laugh
I think you’ll laugh
I really think you’ll laugh:

Remember
When you left
And I kissed you
And I smiled
And I said
(Jokingly, I swear)
“Don’t change”
“Don’t you go and change on me, now”
And you smiled back
And you kissed me
And you said
“I won’t”
“I promise you, I won’t”?

Well, the joke here
Is that instead
I went
And changed
On you.

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