03 July 2016

The waves whisper like bureaucrats

                                             by Margaret Atwood

War Movie II

At last we believe in something:
this is the source of our pain.
We no longer drink gin
and sleep in,
we no longer bargain.

We clamber over stony Greece,
we slink through Polish forests,
it is winter, our toes freeze,
we gnaw on stolen turnips,
we retreat from Moscow
burning everything.

I hide the food and rifles
under my filthy shawl;
I wear a skirt,
I’m less likely to be suspected;
you are a spy, you are the commander,
your name is Sir,
everyone does what you say
because it is the only way.

The others are honed and clean,
their heads are signals,
we stab them without mercy,
we switch clothes with their steel torsos.

The sun bestows rewards:
we are allowed to cry,
we are given background music
where there was none, we are finally emblems,
we are finally credible,
we are finally single-minded.

Near the end there is a huge
explosion, a gun
shaped like an enemy, shaped like a dungeon
topples into the sea.

In the backwash, the waves
whisper like bureaucrats;
they are planning the peace,
the peace we fight for,
deciding which of us
to kill, who to sell.

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