For Liverpool Pals Battalion 1916

Burnished brass mourns farewell
as scarlet poppies in cashmere black
make their arthritic way
past cenotaph
to remember ...
a crocodile of unsophisticated men
jaunty gawky
gap toothed grin
buttoned up gaiters and sackcloth serge
singing bawdy songs over creaking planks
to offer their lives
for freedom.

Let her not see
the tortured faces in saline pools
cadavers that gently rock
stepping stones
for tackety boots
to oblivion.

Let her not hear the shrieks
or smell the stench of putrid flesh
let her remember him
as she sits
gray hair in a simple bun
gnarled hands clasped on faded pinafore
patiently waiting the creak of door
as the one she formed in blood and pain
strides in
or until it is time to go and meet
her son again.

By E.S.Thompson