A song of shell and thunder whistles past my ear
the crack of distant laughter, empty and hollow,
your voice amid the terror stands out to me so clear
while heavy shrapnel nestles between my ribs.
"Mother of God!" one cries out in horror -
and clammy hands reaching for the collar of my shirt,
tugging, ripping, sending buttons flying steep as bullets,
for frightened boys to burrow into my chest and pull out the lead.
Your eyes are focused in the blur, a raging sea of darkest green
bewildered at the sight of a deep red river
pouring towards the valley of my hip, the small dip between
bone and muscle, obscenely pooling like a strange lake;
Inviting you for a swim, had the barrel of a German gun then
missed its mark and pointed left; alas, I sit
and bleed to death underneath your fear-stained gaze; I apologize
and in the haze I lift my arm to gently graze the dried mud on your cheek.
The trench has lost another light, or what was left of its sorry embers;
I pray you will sleep sound tonight, ears shut tight from
screaming, laughing, crying, dying - just think,
if it bears not too much pain, of my love, and speak my name when
My mother asks about her son - with steady voice you tell her
that with a smile on my lips and a warmth in my breast
I thought of her, and passed on.
This is inspired by poetry emerging from WWI / the battle of Dunkirk.