In The Trenches - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
The whistle blew, piercing the gas and rain
He rose to go over the top. A virgin Scot,
A shepherd, not nineteen
It was a brisk exchange. Not lost, not won.
Hun hung on the thin wire, too
Too much killing to pause to bury one
At first, his mild expression did not alter
Mouth, frozen in shock, eyes in alarm
We fought around him, as he'd been a plank.
The second day his corpse swelled up and stank
His white face went from yellow-gray to red
Purple, green, and black, from black to slime
The watch his mother'd set kept perfect time
Though all had stopped for him in his clay bed
Like cattle in a bog, we tasted mud.
Deafened by shell fire, shrapnel's distant thud
The burial party came, gathering him
Into the crowded sheep-bucht of the grave
The blood rose on his brow like a ram-stain
Again the whistle blew, piercing the gas and rain.
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