Dolina ('maison' girl)
a man can get so drunk, he can’t spell his own name,
yet he can hunch over his table in a saloon, pull a blue pen from his
coat pocket, secure a ruled page from the serving girl that she ripped
out of a ledger, & compose the most beautiful, heart-broken poem.
let the whiskey spill & the tears fall where they may.
in the trenches of a bullet-scathed nightmare, I fire my weapon through
the fear in my eyes, Bogart & Hemingway at my flanks. when the enemy
rifles have gone silent, we rise from the pits like forlorn shadows &
progress over the bodies we’ve killed.
we march the gravel road with intent: there is something alive ahead of
us & everything dead behind us. in the sky, the moon radiates among
tiny stars cut from beach glass.
soon, we come to the town’s street that begins the market section.
several of the shops are boarded up, but someone is working in the old
bakery; we can smell fresh bread.
a few doors down stands a tall building. for all of its formidable structure,
it has an acutely feminine aspect. some of the upper story windows are
lit in pink & violet.
we enter to a room full of garish furniture, red velvet drapery. Hemingway
assures the Madam that she has a magnificent bordello, to which she
asserts, ‘it’s not a bordello, it’s a maison.’
and the harlots! delicate & provocative, gathered along the staircase. how
long has it been since we’ve touched a woman? I can’t remember the
texture of her skin or the smell of her hair.
I adjourn to a small chamber with my plaintive coquette. introductions
seem archaic, but I say ‘I am John.’ softly, she utters one word: ‘Dolina.’
we remove these dire intrusions upon our nakedness – a girl’s floral
dress & somewhat Victorian boots; a soldier’s web belt & combat gear.
in bed, I bring her very near to me, her shimmering flesh upon mine.
I do not imagine being this close to a woman. but I was, in another
time & place.
and the moon shuts off its cold fire, & the stars fall…
perhaps I will get very drunk & sleep eternally in Dolina’s bed –
or in the trenches…
(Art: D. Vista)