GULAGS

WASHED OUT SKY.

Dalya was sitting
with her brother
beside me
in the 9 seater

 

mini bus
the Yank girl
was at the front
with the driver/guide

 

and some other prat
who was a teacher
we'd passed into Germany
and were travelling along

 

to the next base camp
I was reading
Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag book
what's that about?

 

Dalya asked
Russian labour camps
between 1918 and 1958
I said

 

heavy
she said
haven't you
anything lighter?

 

no
I said
I only brought this
to fill in the time

 

between camps
looks boring
she said
the death of millions

 

can never be boring
I said
some of my relations
died in the Nazi camps

 

she said
her brother said
Auschwitz Uncle and Auntie
died in and our grandparents

 

so not boring then
I said
Dalya shrugged
her shoulders

 

guess not
she looked away
I read on for a while
I thought of Dalya

 

the evening before
at the first base camp
after putting up the tents
she said

 

that Yank bitch
did nothing
to put our tent up
stood there yakking

 

to the driver/guide
she in her leathers
and tight pants
and I have to

 

share with her
and it's all about
what she's doing
and how the guys

 

are all over her
and she with the posh
sleeping bag
and Dalya went on

 

over drinks
at the base camp bar
you can always
share with me

 

I said
why would I?
she said
why wouldn't you?

 

I said
I’ve only just met you
the other day
she said

 

what do you
take me for?
a pretty girl
out for a good time

 

in a foreign land
I said
I can't anyway
she said

 

she's in my tent
and my brother
shares with you
she was right of course

 

but the thought
was there
even if
the opportunity wasn't

 

she glared
at the Yank girl's head
in front
I read about

 

the NKVD
or whatever
they were called
and sensed Dalya's body

 

next to mine
her thigh touching
against me
I closed the book

 

and looked out
at the passing view
at fields
and trees

 

and the sky
of washed out blue.

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