A Few Words For The Fallen

Inspired by a Waterstones independent film festival screening based on war and love and my personal love for the novel ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks.

‘Greater love knows no one than this, that lays down his life for his brothers and his friends’

Sixty two year slumber has rested me none,
I stir to every scent, every sound of earth on wood.
Wet, hot, hopeless tears on heartless varnish
But they aren’t what I am waiting for,
 they do not weep
For the same lost heart as I have done and will continue to do.

That plump, youthful look that you wore
when I first met you
Silver tendrils tying us together in innocent romance.
Described loosely in the low tones of late night wavering harmonies,
bittersweet projections of sequinned jazz singers.
Sleepy swings amongst liquor fumes dressed in rosy smiles
As I took you gently through the spilt night.

Compulsory packing knocked the heat from my cheeks
As I wrapped our tendrils in tissue for safe keeping.
Starched into a figure of the country,
 I tied my laces and walked away
The aching blur of your face more a scent than an image.

More cigarettes than soldiers
Reaching the end of my smoke before they reached the end of their lives
Joining the hundreds in distasteful jokes
Unconditional confessions
Pocketing tiny stones from every acre cleared.
A delayed blink at every burst set and hatched rise of the sun
Watching you blend into a figure of faith
Less of a woman
But cradling me, the tiny edges we all gripped for comfort.

Thursday thunder competed with the black release of fire
Stealing the sounds of my unsatisfying exit.
I blended into the earth beneath me,
kneaded by the soles of my comrades,
baked by the neat August glow.
Laid to rest, unnamed where I fell.
Cut off mid sentence and incomplete
Once a man of my words, now a man of no words
I actually cried for you, I, stupid man of the dirt.

The weighted rain told me you didn’t remarry,
Nor bore a single child.
Wise winds told me you never loved another,
the clouds told me you grew old, wealthy and vacant.
The daisy-thick grass spoke sympathetically of your absence
But it wasn’t until the earth stopped singing that I knew it had lost you
and the chatter from the birds grew still.

Decayed and unrecognisable I rose from the dirt
hair like feathers, mouldy features lost.
Staggering from side to side
repetitive sways like the dances you remember?
Terrain held no burden, weather meant not to impose.
Foreign progresses slowed me slightly,
as I hobbled down the roads.
My weakened muscles did not tire and that of my yearning
To feel the warm swell of your mouth and the safety you possess.

A tiny town, pretty, I can see why you chose it.
A simple patch of land with foxgloves for shelter, the soil heavy and rich.
For decades my love I stayed warm while the world around me rotted away
Let me see you.
I crawled in beside you, holding my inaudible breath.
Careful not to nudge or disturb
It had been so long, so sickly to imagine
The boy I had remained, the promise of a man that had been stolen from me.
Dry throat thickened, 
feeling muddy tendrils wearily collide
After a sixty two year slumber
I fell asleep by your side.

– Me

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