(After Pat Barker’s novel ‘The Eye in the Door’).

I was reborn in a shell hole,

within Picard clay,

a petulant child.

Sibilant shrapnel hissed overhead,

my voice similarly sibilant since.

The vessel was stuck, unable to move and deal with the pain.

And then I came, again.

Command regained.

‘Steady on the left!’

‘Advance!’

Until, standing alone, I went into the shine of the sun.

Back home, with those who have not been in France, I struggle to contain my contempt,

and stammer like a machine gun.

© Duncan Cleary, 2009.