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This poem is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

She Maps Iraq John Matthias

She maps Iraq. For England and for Empire
and the Man who Would be King.
She is Miss Gertrude Bell, a friend of T.E.L.
and Faisal. She knows much more

than all the men around her table, and she knows
they know this and despise her for her
knowledge and her fluent Arabic. They need her though,
and so she maps Iraq. They cannot find

a thing: no well or wall or wildflower blooming
where they all think nothing blooms.
What they know they only say to one another
at their club - conceited silly flatchest windbag daughter

of the Ironworks Bell & Bell. They'd all
sweat their smelting jealousies in Turkish baths.
She maps Iraq. They all take notes. They lean across
her table, light her endless cigarettes.
...


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