KEEPING BETTY PAGE
you said the only thing you brought
to Iraq that wasn’t standard issue
was a Betty Page poster you kept
folded up into a hundred tiny squares
so that when you unfolded it
it looked like some sort of pinup quilt
you said Betty went where you went
because the army no longer considered
a girl from the fifties ‘pornographic’
and besides, who could turn her down?
there was something about the way
she wore spiked high heels even when
she was climbing trees or ironing sheets
and the jungle green bible in your rucksack
had a loosely bound spine which left
ample space for her buxom body
between the leaves of Luke and John.
but what about your men, I wanted to know,
did they bring anything from home?
you said you made a point of
never giving two shits what another man
had stashed in his hundred pound bag
but I suppose they had pictures too, you went on,
although I knew a guy who brought
a piece of gum his girlfriend had chewed.
it’s strange, you said, what we hang on to
because I still have Betty folded up today
in an antique cigar box at home but
I haven’t unfolded her in years for fear
she’ll collapse in a heap of dust.
I just like knowing she’s there, you said,
creased edges and all
and yes I do know she had a hard life
with a pervert father and a mom who was
permanently out to lunch
but I’d feel more pity for her, you said,
if she didn’t look so damn sinful with
a red rose between her teeth.