December 8, 2008

carrie etter


The Occupation of Iraq

Wounds under plaster or gauze are not wounds
to the beholder. These early daffodils come to bloom
and die in four days. The trick is to lose well,
which is not the same thing as losing profoundly,
not always. The swaddled wound appears already
on its way to recovery; it must, to preserve the pallor
of the bandage, have been washed clean, loose skin
trimmed. The idea was to fill the flat with buds and leave
for France. No bodily injury produces more pain
than that to the nerve, yet the eye cannot perceive it.
We left for France. The dentist overfilled
the canal, sent the sealant six millimeters into
the lingual nerve, delivered six hectares of misery.
On the first night, someone said Canadienne when I
feared Américaine, and I smiled. Winning comes with
a dictionary, all the right words without rules for syntax.
There is no exponent to relate my worst pain
to an entire country's wounds. We came back
from France, and the room was yellow with dying.
All we could see was loss.


this poem first appeared in Shearsman

Carrie Etter's is an American expatriate resident in England since 2001. She has two books forthcoming: The Tethers (Seren, 2009) and Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2010). She is member of the creative writing faculty at Bath Spa University.

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