A bird calls out from the darkness and mist.
The sky is clear, only a few scudding clouds
But the mist hangs like a curtain.
A light flickers and dies to my right.
Flickers and dies.
A flare explodes above me.
The whole scene is lit up.
The light hangs in the sky.
Flickers, and dies.
All is dark again.
The moon rises from behind a cloud.
It shines through the mist,
The area directly in front of me is bathed in a pale glow.
The mist recoils and I see.
I see bomb blasted stumps of trees, sticking out of the ground like stakes.
I see powerful field guns, deserted in the mud, silent, peaceful.
I see a fox, hunting for rats in the night.
I see a tank, gutted and burnt out by fire, squatting, useless and dead.
I see men, hanging from razor wire, frozen while dying, their wounds ripped open by crows.
I hear a burst of laughter from behind me.
It cuts through the silence like a dull knife.
And flickers, and dies.
My breath rises up in front of my face, warming my eyes and nose,
It flows from my mouth like smoke, before merging with the mist.
The rats dig at my feet, making their own intricate web of trench’s and tunnels.
Are they terrified? By the shells and gasses, that that come from the barbed wire fences to choke us?
Another flare lights up illuminating the world.
The water trickles between my feet, seeping into my already sodden shoes.
I see a mess officer walking along the line, doling food out to the night watch.
I am not hungry.
I see the moonlight reflected from hat, his warm boots impacting on the crisply in the cold earth.
“Guten tag privat.”
“Ja! Mein Herr! ”
My soup is poured out.
He moves on.
I sip the soup slowly.
It burns my tongue and throat, and its salty taste makes me gag.
I drain the liquid, and save some breadcrumbs.
The night rolls on.
Behind me, people sleep.