I grew up in a small home town
with green hills and widespread plains
a child of sorts, not yet eighteen,
country blood ran through my veins.
My sister would sit down by the creek
with jars and nets to fish
tadpoles would scatter, i stood guard,
squander, squirm, squish.
My mother baked all day and night
her apron, greasy and worn
she made me learn her secret tricks,
to make sweet breads and corn
My granddad liked to take me out,
teach me things a man should know
the gun had clicked, my tears came out
Reload, click, blow.
My brother on the other hand
Had fists that were fast and mean
He would lighten his step and slyly smile
his body muscular, tall and lean
When they came for us i saw the fire
blazing furiously atop my favourite hill
the guns were loud, the screams were worse
Reload, click, ****.
Defense was key, the men had gathered
i was thrown a gun and called ‘man'
my dad had nodded, my grandfather argued
this wasn’t part of the plan.
I wasn’t ready for that first fight,
not something a boy should have known
like tadpoles everyone had scattered
cold, wet, alone.
When i saw his face i remembered that time
my mother and taught me to cook,
my brothers fists, my sisters nets,
that small, cold, trickling brook,
my grandfathers words, his steady hands
which had wiped my tears away
i knew his job, i knew his thoughts
Bow, sniffle, pray
But the reload i noticed didn’t come,
there was no deafening noise
the gun stood still, his face looked scared
like me, these were only boys.
I won’t forget the way he had starred,
or the way his gun fell down,
this child of war, this filthy face
stare, blink, frown.
He had grasped my hand, and pulled me up
leaning me on his shoulder,
had taken me to cover, saluted one hand
He had looked a hundred years older.
Battle had raged, that night long ago,
my medals polished and won,
but i shan’t forget that man of war
brother, sister, son.