A poem by M. Lapin
–based on the poem, “The Colonel,” by Carolyn Forché
This is what is true. I did go to the Monsanto executive’s house. He had a servant, tall and strong, with wide-open eyes and exquisite posture. She brought in a tray of coffee, tea, cream and sugar. His daughter sat with her back to us playing a handheld video game, his son sat near her watching the small screen. The WALL STREET JOURNAL, two cats, and an opened book lay face down next to him. The sun had left the sky and outside a piece of moon streamed light onto the small pond near the house. He offered me a seat and I noticed right away there was no television in the room, no shelves full of books, not even a computer. He asked his children to leave, asked the servant to bring his wife in, and then turned to me and asked if I had had dinner yet. Near the doorway was an expensive box hiding an alarm system. Through the large picture window I could see bright lights go on and off throughout the yard when a deer decided to take a walk across the lawn. I heard the bark of a few dogs. The deer, caught in the light, decided to stay. It looked towards the barking sounds, looked towards the light, then bent its head to eat. We had dinner, braised beef, good wine, vegetables he bragged fresh from the garden. The servant brought in sour sop, mang cow, and other fruits you cannot get at the store. I was asked about my blogs, my forums, a few other things. I, a guest in his house, invited, answered each request with tight brief sentences. The servant cleared the table. His wife asked why I felt the way I did. The executive looked me intently in the face, did not give me a chance to reply, raised his hand and excused himself. He came back with a box that made noise when he placed it on the table. He opened it and took out one bottle, then another, and still another. He picked each bottle up and placed it carefully on the table until there was nothing left in the box. At first I thought I was looking at oxen parts in brine, pig parts maybe in salt water, embryos I studied in school, but then I realized each bottle held a child, a baby, deformed, in some instances unrecognizable as a human. They were like creatures from a H. G. Wells’ Doctor Moreau. How else can I describe them? Experiments with dioxins and genes in Monsanto’s labs? The executive opened one bottle and took the deformed baby into his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it back into its bottle and we watched in silence as it sunk back to the bottom. I want this noise stopped, he said. As for compensation or anything else, tell your group to fuck themselves. He paused. I have the cause for this in this house. I can show you if you wish. Forty years and I’m still collecting these Vietnamese and American monsters. Then he smiled. Something for your blog, no? the executive’s wife asked, her husband laughed and the servant came into the room, placed everything back into the box and removed it from the room.