"Battlefield" by Olwen Lund (Barnoldswick)
A journey long postponed, a painful pilgrimageleads a centenarian soldier, defying his age
to revisit images that have haunted, memories that torture.
Now strength failing and conscience piercing, he fulfils
his pledge before time whisks chance away,
to lay tribute at the scene so soaked in sorrow
but now a field of poignant beauty as row after row
of white headstones catch the soft glint of morning sun.
Our veteran stands with limbs atremble at the edgeof the shallow remnants of a now tranquil trench
once scenes of such horror unimagined and visions recalled
transport him to times that can transfix the mind with grief.
Bullets whistle around him, cruelly cutting through
wistful longings for loved ones and home. Can he survive
this endless conflict and return unharmed in body?
Yes, but forever altered in anguished mind.
A sudden breeze draws him back from distant pastjust like his fallen friends have oft, in years between, eerily crept
into the present, gently carried in precious remembrance.
That brave band of pals, recruited together, fought
with sterling camaraderie and are still side by side in silent grave
on innocent farmland that became a blighted battlefield
of callous and senseless slaughter as wave on wave of gallantry
was mown down on a crimson carpet of death.
He takes one last glance at the names on gleaming stone slabs
and whispers, “My years have been too many and yours too few
O friends so dear, comrades so fine,
I would gladly have given you some of mine”