When Daring the Brutal to Speak


after Forché



What you have heard may be true. She may even have been here in my house. Perhaps my wife carried in a tray of coffee and sugar—what wife does not? Maybe my daughter filed her nails, while my son went out for the night. In the background—Miami Vice. Easy to imagine, isn’t it? After all CNN had barely been aired and what type of backwoods colonel would watch that?


There would be newspapers, pet dogs, and a pistol on the cushion beside me. A parrot perhaps for good effect!


In my country all the houses have broken bottles embedded in their walls, though we are not so macabre as to imagine them scooping the kneecaps from an intruder’s legs or cutting his hands to lace; the broken bottles are a deterrent to those who imagine me inside, eating rack of lamb with my dinner guests; drinking good wine and ringing a gold dinner bell to summon the maid.


Oh God. It is rich! To think that I, a Colonel, a man as well versed as she, would serve up a rack of lamb and good wine with a TV blaring in the background.


It may be true that I have disappeared thousands, killed bus loads of students, cars full of nuns, and made orphans of all my country’s children, except, of course, my own. She certainly wants to think so, seeing dried peaches as human ears. 


But really who knows and who cares?


The moon over my house exists only in the poet’s imagination,  swinging on its black cord, not because I interrogate Ms. Forché, but because she, the poet,  interrogates me. There are no witnesses; there’s only a poem, half spent as it’s written; half as it’s failed to be bread. 


                                   Munro Galloway

                                   Munro Galloway