I have read Harry Clifton’s Monsoon Girl innumerable times, however I remain unable to fully comprehend the poem. On the surface Monsoon Girl is about an affair between a westerner and a Thai girl, however when one delves deeper Clifton provides hints that the girl may be a prostitute “Your nudity dapples the walls with shadows, and splashes the mirrors like a vision, in the blue light that bathes you, a pleasure-girl on a lost planet, sincere but only at night …”. The term “pleasure-girl” hints at a lady who in return for the things which money can buy provides sexual services, in other words a prostitute. However the words “We’ll come here again, as we did before …”. may suggest a mistress rather than a prostitute. In Thailand the line between prostitute and mistress can be very thin.
Clifton intimates that the relationship is not one of equals, ” … and dream the rainy months away on pampered beds where forgetfulness lies down with executive power …”. It isn’t explicitly stated but the implication is that the man in the poem is a rich western executive availing himself of the services of a Thai sex worker. Alternatively the girl in the poem may be an employee of the powerful executive who is engaged in an affair with him either out of love, for money or, perhaps a mixture of motives.
The poem ends with the implication of exploitation, “elsewhere the night will separate us, having sowed within you miscarriage of juice forever …”. I’m not sure what to make of these lines. Perhaps the man in the poem has infected his partner with a sexually transmitted disease rendering her infertile.

(For Monsoon Girl by Harry Clifton see The New Poetry edited by Michael hulse. Bloodaxe Books, pages 174-175).

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