Two Nurses Light Two Wounded Soldiers' Cigarettes

by Hannah


This is about Stephanie.  I told you about her
In the other poem.  She mirrors the pale-cheeked girl
In the World War Two poster, both faces drawn
In charcoal thin-line pencil.  The white white against the black
And sky-meeting-brow blue.  Both wore their hair and hat
As if they were ornaments for a necessary face.

In this imaginary Dusseldorf:  a nun in the sense that
She had never let a penis pass into either mouth more
Than before the teeth, holds a forgiveness for the wound                       
(A gaping shrapnel-hole in one, blue balls for the other):
The exact in both cases:  a thin Camel, smoking just enough to split.
The soldier is double-lidded and his tongue is wet.

I catch the poster on an imaginary Sunday when I wake the house,
Drag them in their various states of shower to the Pee Em Ay.
We climb the stairs (and our legs are shabbily shaved up there).
We pass the gate and fall for sake of gravity to the left.
The guest-exhibit:  World War Two posters, all grin-and-large.
We stop at the one mentioned.  I imagine a stirring under the layers

Of cotton-white and khaki (something is definitely happening down there).
The present day flesh, only here and now postered, I see three months ago
in memory.
An inaccessable, possibly-invited, fading hopeful sits at the edge of her
She smiles and her chin doubles despite her.  It's wonderful.
(I'm pursed now, in my crabduckmother way.)  He makes the fumble,
She pulls back, aware of the lack of softness around the cuticles,             

When the chastity belt hops into a ballet of her reach, pinch, light,
And offer of the smoking white stick:  he turns, and perhaps sees the tail
Of my borrowed dress retreating down the stairs.  In any case,
The cigarette of her whatever calms him.  Three-sistered Time stops,
Pulls the offending thread and bronzes it for the mantle.