Non-Military Statements

Yes, I did write in my letter
that I would wait for you forever.
I didn’t mean exactly “forever,”
I just included it in the rhyme.

No, he was not among them.
There were so many of them!
More than I’ve seen in my life
on any television screen.
And yet he was not among them.

It has no carvings
or arms.
It always remains there
in front of the television
this empty chair.

I dream of a magic wand
that changes my kisses to stars.
At night you can gaze at them
and know they are innumerable.

I thank everyone I don’t love.
They don’t cause me heartache;
they don’t make me write long letters;
they don’t disturb my dreams.
I don’t wait for them anxiously;
I don’t read their horoscopes in magazines;
I don’t dial their numbers;
I don’t think of them.
I thank them a lot.
They don’t turn my life upside down.

I drew a door
to sit behind, ready
to open the door
as soon as you arrive.

—Dunya Mikhail (translated by Elizabeth Winslow)