Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,291 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

Preferable Changes - Poem by Terry Collett

Dalya met Baruch in Oslo,
a small cafe in a back street;
he was eating a cream cake

and coffee. She was fuming
over the Yank bitch that she
shared a tent with back at

base camp. It’s like sharing
with a scented skunk, she said.
Baruch listened, the fiery girl

sat opposite him, stirred her
latte, spat out words. Baruch
was halfway through the Gulag

book, the Solzhenitsyn eye
opener on the labour camps
of Russia. Dalya’s gripe seemed

pretty shallow; her language
left little to the imagination,
rough words, hard chipped,

chiselled out of rock sort of thing,
he thought, watching her mouth
move the words. Always about

the men she’s had, Dalya said,
as if I cared a monkey’s. Baruch
forked in more cake, fingered

off cream from his upper lip
and licked. They’d picked up
the American in Hamburg,

squeezed her into the overland
truck with the others. And oh,
yes, where shes been, Dalya said,

she’s been under the Pope’s
armpit, no doubt. She sipped
the latte, stared at Baruch, her

eyes dark blue, her lips thin, her
hair dark and curled. Maybe she
has, Baruch said, but what’s it to

you? I have to hear her jabbering
on in the tent night after night,
Dalya said, and me trying to get

to sleep. You can always swap with
me, he said, she can share with
the Aussie prat, who’s in with me.

She didn’t reply, but looked at her
latte, stirred with the plastic spoon.
And what would my brother say?

He’d tell the parents when we got
home. Baruch knew her brother
wouldn’t have minded, he was often

drinking and drunk till blinded.
Baruch had only suggested it in
jest, nothing really meant, but she
was preferable to the Aussie in his tent.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Poem Edited: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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