Lest We Forget: Remembrance Day Poems

November 11, 2015

WINTER WHITE

Ardennes – January 1945

 

Mid-afternoon in some nameless town

a door bangs, a woman comes running,

arms full of folded white. One sheet

flies out behind her like a banner, and

they understand. She's giving them linens,

winter camouflage. With no language,

he thanks her, and she presses to him,

weeping. When she runs he lifts

his hands and finds

a table cloth. Not lace,

but that stiff stuff,

cutwork. He cuts it

with his bayonet.

Pulls it over his head. Inside,

he smells the starch,

the ghost of iron.

 

***

 

NAMES (i)

Ardennes – February 1945

 

The new ones,

green, we lost so quick

sometimes I never learned them,

or learned two, you see,

like Smith and Jones, and never

straightened which was which.

Checked the tags, but it didn't fix

in my mind, which was which.

 

NAMES (ii)

Ardennes – February 1945

 

Gawosky took a slug

of secret brandy – not a damn thing here

has got my name on it – he spat,

jammed a bandage

to the blown tip of his ear.

 

It was a shell

that knew him. It called

and he opened his mouth

to answer.

 

***

 

To all those who served and are serving, we thank you.

 

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