Elly Bookman
Another Thing I'd Rather Not Know About Myself

Is what a good soldier I’d make.  A man
and woman come in to the coffee shop 
and talk about the dinner party menu
like it’s the divorce settlement.  I watch
them sit down, each ready to write
and argue, and he suggests jambalaya
and she says she’s okay with that
to which he says you don’t sound okay
with that and to answer she only asks
how it’s spelled so she can type the decision
into her laptop, finally.  And I don’t
mean to say I’d be a good killer, 
just good like she is at taking
small deaths in.  He’s shot.  Alright,
it’s happened, I would think, because
that’s what I’ve thought at every
bad turn in life: tire blown, it’s 
happened, money gone, it’s happened,
pipes broken so the sewage has been
piling under the house for a month,
it’s happened and we’ll have to get 
a pump in there to siphon it out.  
Like the woman pecking now
without grudge at the keys that make
the word jambalaya, I’m quick to forgive
and get on.  And I can see me there
on the battlefield, where nowadays
robots, I’m told, rank and move 
with the regiment and it’s not so much a field
with two sides charging as a zone in which
every bit of live body heat is fair game,
where we’re all programmed for peace
until a voice echoes in our helmet that
we should fire at will.  And fire we will,
all of us, and I think I’d be good
at staying willing, at letting each little
hit happen because there, it’s happened
and isn’t it little?  Doesn’t the grand
amount of flame-tinted shadows
on the infrared scanner make it so?  Yes
I’d be such a good soldier.  For
when the fire came back at us, too
and you fell next to me I would
forgive the firer and get on with firing
at him.  I’d forget about you
and engage.  I’d be okay with that.

Found In Volume 39, No. 05
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  • Elly Bookman
Elly Bookman
About the Author

Elly Bookman is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and a 2009 graduate of Colby College in Maine.  She is entering her first year in theMFA program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.