A Nocturne’s Value

Issue 5 | Winter 2020 |

 

I informed the officer of the Intelligence Department for whom I worked that I found the work too great a strain and would prefer to … return to ordinary life.
— Olga, MI5 agent during World War II

 

War uniforms are ill-fitting and moth-eaten—
hanging like beckoning ghosts
from the cramped closet. If you bite
into a maid of honor, you might taste the neck
of Anne Boleyn. If you press your nail,
against the scrap pail’s handle,
you will realize you are tired—so tired
of composting rationed and rotten
vegetables. Past-due eggs crack under
jack-booted and blistered feet. Tomorrow,
the future dawns through bay windows,
and in a sedate living room a piano
waits for melancholy and a pair of chapped hands.