The Traitor

By Sabrina Orah Mark b. 1975 Sabrina Orah Mark
A few days before the first snow the soldiers dressed like children began to appear. “Come quick,” said Beatrice, fetching Walter B. away from his scripture, “and bring candy!” Walter B. pulled on his robe and joined Beatrice on the balcony. “Oh look,” said Beatrice, “you can see their small, sweet eyes peeking through the bramble.” Walter B. threw a handful of red gumdrops into the air and watched the soldiers dressed like children scatter, and raise their arms in glee. “Feels sinful, doesn’t it?” purred Beatrice. They watched them stand in the field and chew. “Which one,” asked Walter B., “do you think is the hero?” “That one,” said Beatrice. “Definitely that one. The one with the mittens.” “Yes,” agreed Walter B., “the others seem less... festooned.” “And which one do you think,” asked Walter B., “is the traitor?” Beatrice bit her lip and looked around. “Maybe that one,” she said. “The one with the orange flower in the pocket of his vest.” Walter B. agreed, but to be certain he thought that he should ask. “Little traitor,” called out Walter B. The traitor looked up. “I knew it!” said Beatrice, clapping her hands. The traitor came closer. The wind shook the oragne flower loose from his pocket, but he did not run after it. He missed his mother. The traitor came closer, but then he stopped. He curled into his flowerless vest and fell asleep. Walter B. and Beatrice yawned. The soldiers dressed like children opened their mouths as wide as they could, but there was no more candy. There would never again be more candy. And so they sailed away to another land.

Sabrina Orah Mark, “The Traitor” from Tsim Tsum. Copyright © 2009 by Sabrina Orah Mark. Reprinted by permission of Saturnalia Books.

Source: Tsim Tsum (Saturnalia Books, 2009)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Sabrina Orah Mark b. 1975

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Relationships, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Biography

Sabrina Orah Mark grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a BA from Barnard College, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD from the University of Georgia. She is the author of the book-length poetry collections The Babies (2004), winner of the Saturnalia Book Prize chosen by Jane Miller, and Tsim Tsum (2009), as well as the chapbook Walter B.’s Extraordinary Cousin Arrives for a Visit & Other Tales from Woodland . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.