Robert Olen Butler
Robert Olen Butler won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. His work has appeared several times in TMR.
Sep 01 1996
Titanic Victim Speaks Through Waterbed
This is a bit of a puzzle, really. A certain thrashing about overhead. Swimmers with nowhere to go, I fear, though I don’t recognize this body of water. I’ve grown quite used to this existence I now have. I’m fully conscious that I’m dead. And yet not so, somehow. I drift and drift, and I am that in which I drift, though what that is now, precisely, is unclear to me.
Sep 01 1993
Mar 01 1990
I have no hatred in me. I’m almost certain of that. I fought for my country long enough to lose my wife to another man, a cripple. This was because even though I was alive, I was dead to her, being far away. Perhaps it bothers me a little that his deformity was something he was born with and not earned in the war. But even that doesn’t matter. In the end, my country itself was lost and I am no longer there and the two of them are surely suffering, from what I read in the papers about life in a unified Vietnam. They mean nothing to me, really. It seems strange even to mention them like this, and it is stranger still to speak of them before I speak of the man who suffered the most complicated feeling I could imagine. It is he who makes me feel sometimes that I am sitting with my legs crossed in an attitude of peace and with an acceptance of all that I’ve been taught about the suffering that comes from desire.