Terminal Leave. France 1917
Poem by James Mills
I spent last night in my valley.
Green and peaceful, it is.
Slow wagons of unburdened past
creak slow down berry-bright lanes.
That last harvest saved and stacked
bristling and quaking in fields
where mud is but good earth
turned up by good men
and the bells of Sunday toll
us all to chapel from our beds,
where I've dreamed again of Molly
falling, falling into my arms.
Dawn: I am awake to
dull gunboom torturing the air.
Mudstuck tumbrils grumble by
abrim with glum, unready heroes.
And they will harness me to a post
and they will load and aim
and they will fire at my heart
but they will miss my heart,
for I bequeathed my target heart
in its last unhurt murmuring
to beat in still valleys
beyond these obscene echoes.
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