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Do Not Disturb

Nina Dietrich

We spend New Year’s Eve in your dirty flat,

washing down greasy pizza with cans of Foster’s

in silence. Impatient children light firecrackers

outside, and I try to make love to you out of habit.

You want to play computer games instead.

I venture to the bathroom to throw up.


You’re still at the desk at eleven fifty-eight,

fighting Nazis in northern France, rescuing

comrades from the trenches and hurling

hand grenades at advancing Germans. I hug you,

count down the seconds into your ear,

kiss you softly. Happy New Year, darling.


I collapse to the floor through fireworks

blood streams out of my nose; my eye

swells shut in an instant. Happy New Year,

you whisper with a smile, and kick

my barely healed ribs with heavy boots.

Then you return to the front line.


From Fire No 26 (2006)