War Memorial by Alison Rumfitt


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War Memorial

Here, now, I have a pill to stop me from writing this
and it doesn’t work because I’ve been taking them less
and I’m at the end of the box, so here,
I can write again, which feels painful,
the ends of my fingers are like split wood.
Here is another poem about something that makes you squirm,
and I walk far out from my home down to the seafront
where a heavy wind blows and carries gull laughter.
I am wearing jeans, I am always wearing jeans
because the last time I walked down here
I wore a skirt which flapped around my knees.

There is a war memorial. It sits squat and ugly made of concrete
encircled by walls. I find it very relatable.
I once heard someone joke that it looks phallic
and the joke was that war is masculine,
making me masculine, making me phallic,
making me, warlike, I’ve never fought a battle in my life,
I wouldn’t know where to start.
Last time, we all sat in the memorial’s great shadow drinking wine
and I got chips from the shop a short walk away,
a car pulled up: two women were inside,
“My sister thinks you’re hot,” said one of them,
they wanted me to climb in deep with them
and be nestled by their edges.
I ran. This was the first bad thing that happened that day.
The second was the men shouting at me,
“Can’t you just wear jeans?”
and the third was the girl I kissed who then abruptly
shoved her hand up my skirt when my back was turned.
She needn’t have, she could have just gone and touched
the memorial. It would have been better for everyone, I
think.

Can you imagine a better summer for all
and a better time out beside the seaside
where we all ate chips and I didn’t flinch and I
got in their car and they took me home and finished me off,
what a lovely summer’s evening beside the sea
in the shadow of the memorial standing testament to dead kids,
instead we have to deal with all this aftershock,
another little pain to add to my book,
something else to write poetry about.

I can hear the soldiers sing
and I walk to their rhythm:
I don’t know what I’ve been told,
legs in this skirt feel fucking cold,
left,
right,
left,
right,
who will be left,
who was right,
who will be left,
who was right?




Alison Rumfitt

Alison is an 19 year-old transgender writer who lives in the South of England and studies at the University of Sussex. She loves mythology, folklore, gothic romance and neon-lit cinema. Her poetry has previously been published in Liminality, Persephone’s Daughters, TAME zine and Cahoodaloodaling. It featured in Nothing Without a Company’s play [Trans]Formations, and she has (and continues) to work with Lush’s perfumery Gorilla Perfumes. Her twitter is @ironicgothic.