Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Day Twenty - R&R By Brian Turner
R & R
The curve of her hip where I’d lay my head,
that’s what I’m thinking of now, her fingers
gone slow through my hair on a blue day
ten thousand miles off in the future somewhere,
where the beer is so cold it sweats in your hand,
cool as her kissing you with crushed ice,
her tongue wet with blackberry and melon.
That's what I’m thinking of now.
Because I’m all out of adrenaline,
all out of smoking incendiaries.
Somewhere deep in the landscape of the brain,
under the skull’s blue curving dome—
that’s where I am now, swaying
in a hammock by the water’s edge
as soldiers laugh and play volleyball
just down the beach, while others tan
and talk with the nurses who bring pills
to help them sleep. And if this is crazy,
then let this be my sanatorium,
let the doctors walk among us here
marking their charts as they will.
I have a lover with hair that falls
like autumn leaves on my skin.
Water that rolls in smooth and cool
as anesthesia. Birds that carry
all my bullets into the barrel of the sun.
R&R by Brian Turner
Everyone needs something to look forward to, a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that keeps us focused and fuels us through our most challenging moments. Goals are what make the process worthwhile. For a soldier, like Brian Turner, the lack of a goal can be deadly. Without opportunities, possibilities, and the joyous love waiting at home, soldiers might be overtaken by the darkness around them. The rest and relaxation that Turner describes in R&R might be an illusion, but some illusions are necessary to the preservation of reality.
In a quiet moment away from the dangers and rigors of combat, the speaker in Brian Turner's poem R&R thinks of "the curve of her hip" where he'd "lay his head" and "her fingers / gone slow through (his) hair." The curve of his love's hip could just as well be the curve of his gun handle, but he needs an outlet from the violent world he resides in. That outlet, even though it's "ten thousand miles off in the future somewhere," is a peaceful place that resembles a utopian reward "where the beer is so cold it sweats in your hand, / cool as her kissing you with crushed ice, / her tongue wet with blackberry and melon." Turner's outlet is familiar, refreshing, and sweet, but he only seeks the outlet because he's "all out of adrenaline, / all out of smoking incendiaries." Crashing from his rough current reality, he seeks a comfortable place in a previous world that he hopes to visit again in the future.
Turner can thread images of joy together, but even he acknowledges they are "somewhere deep in the landscape of the brain." They are figments, but somehow they seem so real. In fact, they are imbued with such reality that Turner must confront the idea of lunacy. He knows how it looks and declares "And if this is crazy, / then let this be my sanatorium, / let the doctors walk among us here / marking their charts as they will." He doesn't care how it looks and he doesn't care if he truly is crazy because this diversion from the pain of his real, war-torn life is the key to his survival. It is the R&R that allows Turner to so beautifully tell the world, and remind himself, that he has "a lover with hair that falls / like autumn leaves on (my) skin." She is the goal, the reason, the reward. She...and the water...and the sun...and the world where evil can exist, but where beauty, truth, hope, and love are prone to "roll in smooth and cool."