Blue Bonnet Review

A Literary Journal Featuring Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction by Talented Writers Around the Globe

A literary journal featuring poetry, fiction and nonfiction by writers around the globe. 

The Woman I Loved in the Cold War

Jeffrey Alfier

I drift back to ’75, December-dark Kolberg,
          shore leave from the freighter I was deckhand on.
                     I wandered discos in search of drink, dance,

any woman rumored loose. Sewn into my peacoat
          lining was Parisian lip balm, smuggled for the off
                     chance I would find that woman, and I did,

claiming she was a shy clerk from a worker’s council.
          After the disco, all night the bottle of Soplica slipped
                     the winter-cracked lips on her windburnt face,

frost starring her wool scarf in headlong gusts that never failed
          to whip in from seaward. She spoke little English
                     and I no Polish. So we laughed at our displaced

tongues, a laughter that caught the ire of police who stopped
          to inspect my seaman’s card each time we stepped
                     into streetlamp halos or neon prisms late drunks

infest, swaying like spent refugees. In the lust-fever we shared
          at her flat on Albatrosa, bedsheets clung to us like damp
                     earth. I told her of my hatred to leave, of my bourgeois

dread of the sea. She wished my ship was stranded there,
          icebound at her Baltic port, as we watched the trees
                     outside her window grow heavy with ice,

the cathedral’s shoulders lean away into darkness. Now,
          I think how half a world away, boats are unmoored
                     from their Kolberg quays, how smooth they glide,

like eyes raised to a mirror, the sighing sounds of her waking city.
          I think how you kiss the stranger you dance with, turn to catch
                     your breath, and come away with blood on your lip.