Letter from the frontier

I’m told
that back home
in the city where libraries once
held books to be read,
a few fertile are left
to be widespread for masters and wives,
to be bred and to breed
for printing of prayers
while
here at the frontier
I wait for shrapnel to rip
my kneecaps to cinder.

At night
it’s hard to remember
discussions and banter
on how to divide
those trivial chores
in the household we shared
before
they decided to wedge us apart.

Somewhere I hope
for a place
where either a bullet or you
will help me to cross
the borders from boredom to change.

Killed soldier. Near the village of Mechka. by Vasily Polenov

This is written for Sherry’s prompt at toads where we should write about some perspective from the Handmaid’s tale. I have not seen the series but I have read the book, and if I remember correctly most of the men were sent away for meaningless war. I try to capture that perspective which I only try to imagine.

June 13, 2019

11 responses to “Letter from the frontier

  1. Oh, the tone of this reads like I imagine men would feel, all sent off to war, remembering a long-ago time when men and women lived together and shared the home and hearth. Sigh. It scares me to feel us edging closer to more years of warring. Havent we humans learned a thing? Thanks for writing to the prompt, Bjorn. You nailed it.

  2. I will have to read the book – I’m on Season 3. Feeling useless, unable to defend those you love – what a horrible thing.

  3. I really love that you offered up this alternate view. Patriarchies like the one described in the book damage men as well. That a bullet is given the same weight as the beloved (anything to get out of the situation he finds himself in) is a stark way to put it.

  4. It is so sad, frightening to be sent off to useless war. Inequality effects everyone.

  5. I was drawn to the distance in language with this. “Widespread” “Divide” and the “Wedge” between. Widespread made me think of legs and the divide the distance between the city and frontier, and also between the men and women. And the roles each are allotted the wedge that divides them all. And in the end trying to find a way to somehow cross over, to come together again.

  6. Your poem points towards one of the most terrifying things in the book (I haven’t watched the series either): how much it resembles our current day. Men and women are separated into very specific groups: the masters of all, the masters of lesser men and women, and the most despicable (to me) those sending men to die in the name of nothing and the women (at the top of their tomb) who believed your speaker should be grateful for the bullets and the walking female flesh should be happy to bleed in the name of stupidity, greed, and a community that didn’t see them as real people.

    You know, I haven’t read the book in some time. And this poem, this letter, makes me want to reread it… just so that I can pay more attention to those in the frontier. I don’t think I was very fair to them in my first reading.

  7. I was very intrigued to read your response to this prompt, and I think you are right on target.. there is a dialogue which seems intent on creating barriers between men and woomen today.. almost wishfully forcing them apart as allies in the same struggle and creating a partisan mentality. I do not endorse this rhetoric at all. Women have not struggled for exclusivity but inclusivity. We are stronger as a society when everyone is on the same page.

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