trenched in

trenched in
   to my grandfather, William ‘Pop’ Rumble

Ypres
Soldiers of an Australian artillery brigade passing through Chateau Wood, 29 October 1917. From the Australian War Memorial collection

you went to
‘the war’,
you came back.
there were i
heard from mum
just once
places in your
mind you never
trod in day
though nights
might wake in them
caught in mud
the screaming of
men and shell.
the least said
you would have
lesser, so the less
she told us.
you kept the
war from us,
a good soldier
to the core,
so telling us
all we ever
needed to
know of it,
that it was not
for going near
in deed, even
in word.
some, like you.
unwilling gamblers
tried their luck
in it and having
broken even left
the table still with
something of themselves
in hand, yet were
long conscripted to
the nightmare, the
battle in the dark
anything could trigger
right until death’s
armistice released
them.

november 2018

Copyright © 2021 Peter Le Baige. All Rights Reserved

The music is from a transcription for choir by Samuel Barber of his ‘Adagio for Strings’ and as a setting for the Agnus Dei (‘Lamb of God’), here performed by The Dale Warland Singers.

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