June 22, 2010

Jehanne Dubrow

THE COLD WAR, A ROMANCE

Sometimes we were illegal dollar bills.
We were the three-hour line for bread,
the last pair of pantyhose in the shop,
the hard potato. Or else, we were the town
of industry where all machines had stopped,
the stalled assembly line, the pneumatic drills.
We were the wiretap, the rumor spread
from room to room. We were the State crackdown.
And yes, we were the act of making do—
a soup of water, salt, a chicken bone.
We were the vodka swigged against the chill,
and the sad folk song that every soldier knew,
and the ribbon in the yellow hair, and the stone
that marked the fallen bodies on the hill.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
Tribute to the Sonnet

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Jehanne Dubrow: “‘The Cold War, A Romance’ comes out of my current obsession: to write about the awful discomfort and ugly beauty of adolescence. Since I spent most of puberty living in the Eastern Bloc, I’ve been using the language, rhetoric, and imagery of Communism to speak about the tyranny of the teenage body.” (website)