O.P.P. #13 — Carolyn’s witnessing…

Day 13 of National Poetry Month.

And we are looking at things that we do not want to look at…


Time Colonel



by Carolyn Forché


WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went   
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
                                                                                     May 1978
 









8 thoughts on “O.P.P. #13 — Carolyn’s witnessing…

  1. There is no other way to say this: ears were like dried peach halves. I feel like I’m the guest at the most interesting dinner party. This is a cool tale. An earful I’d like to hear more of. 😀 My jaw would be on the floor of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hrmmm….Rather not such a fun party, I gather. This was based on here actual experiences in Central America. I think that had either of us been there, our ears would have been on the floor as well……you know….poets and dissidents…..

      Like

    • You and I both, Ron. I often forget most if not all of poems, even ones that I love. I’ll still remember the impact–how it made me feel–but the details slip away. This one left very deep and detailed imprints.

      Like

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