All four came home.
“Irish luck,” they said. But others saw
it as some sort of record from a war
that set so many other records and
it stood for more than thirteen years until
the youngest let it fall.

I see him still —
unsteady on the stairs, far older than
the other brothers. Hear him too, his slow
unended sentences , his silences. He seemed
to cough a lot then lean on things. By then
that run of rare good fortune that began
in  Passchendaele in nineteen-seventeen
and ended in November ‘twenty-nine
still had another year or two to go
before the coughing stopped. Gas takes its time

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