Thursday, November 16, 2006

Eve of Armistice Day, The Somme

By Adam Gibson ©

it's night in Amiens and to the east
i feel that physically, the Somme River Valley,
over my shoulder, behind my bed and the hotel wall

i'm less than 25km from the old Western Front
where thousands were killed in three years
in trenches scratched from chalky limestone
and bogged in freezing mud from the knee down

and i feel there's figures still waiting in those fields,
i know it tonight,
silently waiting for the 88th anniversary
of when the guns fell silent evermore in that war
and they thought forever because nothing then could surpass
the dying of such a time and place

the heater is ticking over its concerns to me
in its old-fashioned way of paint-coated decades
and i wonder, looking around, if this hotel room,
with its floor which slopes to the east and
a noticeable lean you can see from the street,
was here when this town had closed down
to all but a few gendarmes and hardy few

the other terrified residents having fled the German push,
fully expected, definitely coming,
right through the front, right through this town,
right onto Paris.

i turn off the light to go to sleep but
five minutes later
am scrambling for the switch again
as i hear and feel footsteps suddenly entering my room.

i shout but there's no one there:
with the light on,
i see there's no one there.

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