See that headstone there – the third along?
The nineteen-nineteen `flu – we dug that grave
the night that I came home – just me and one
of Hartshornes’ boys – ex Tenth Battalion. We
began at sunset – February and
you couldn’t touch the crowbars in the day.
Sounds hang around you know, I still can hear
the thudding bars and shovels scraping clay,
moths knocking on the lanterns. Then a storm,
two points of rain, then clearing, then the light.
We finished as the cart and traps arrived.
Her husband came up later – ship delayed.
He’d been away four years and gassed and blown
about at Bullecourt but still alive –
still is. We filled the grave in slowly then the sun
was getting up a bit. It seemed to me
well, not the usual kind of welcome home.
But then at least we had one – not like some.

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