My Great Uncle William Reece told this to his sister (my Grandmother), she told me. He was in the Royal Horse Artillery.


Two Left, One Returned: Neither Came Back.

On Dunkirk beach,
For three days there lying:
Holding a comrade-stranger
Away from dying.

The noise and the dirt
All around.
I tried to put aside
The sound of the drowned.

We held together,
He, barely breathing,
Me, untouched
But seething
That the plumes and the horses,
The shining brass braid,
The ceremonial salutes,
Were now an irrelevant fade;
That the marching,
The fanfares, the glory,
Had prepared none of us
For the gory.

The small ships came for us,
And we luckied onto a tiny boat,
To escape back to England,
Across England's moat.

We had one cigarette left between us,
And I lit it and smoked
The first drag, then put it to his lips:
He dragged, he choked:
He coughed a look at me
That said more
Than anything else ever could or did
About war.
And, as that last cigarette burned
To ash, and dropped on his chest,
The look on his face turned
From pain to rest.

I silented the journey home,
In a numb,
With a now-looking-back memory
Of no more than the hum
Of the engine
Throbbing me, trying to get me to sleep,
But it was all robbing me;
The horror had me in its keep.

The swell of the waves,
And the smell of the fuel,
Welled up inside me,
And cried me to cruel
Realisation
That God and glory had had a hand
In the story
That had begun on that sand.

No more
Would I
Accept:
Nor could I.




Poetry by Mark J. Wood
Read 785 times
Written on 2006-11-14 at 15:22

Tags War 

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Sage
When you put the line in about the smell of the fuel the poem really became something more for me, like I could of been there.
2006-11-14


Kathy Lockhart The PoetBay support member heart!
you have relayed this from your heart touching, reaching out over the years past to the present and now to the future the pain of one soldier's journey through war. It was as though I stood there watching these solemn turn of events. well said.
2006-11-14