In my English class we have been reading poems on war and conflict by Thomas Hardy, Wilfred Owen others, most recently Drummer Hodge. Through this, I’ve really been able to use the vivid imagery of the soldier as a person and not an object of social propaganda or glorification to go beyond the battlefield into the mind of the human in combat.
Over the course of history, wars are mostly remembered for battles won and lost and treaties hammered out in comfortable rooms by politicians playing demigods. The death count is limited to numbers and the dead become expendable wood crosses. However, there will always be someone waiting for them. This six piece stanza explores the brutal reality of the soldier, often young, alone and far from home.
The forgotten soldier
An old man walked across the battle field.
The sun was absent and the ground was
wet with rain and torn with mud.
The Earth was drenched with the blood and
sweat; the air, stale with the stench of desperate
He came across a soldier, a lad by his looks,
young enough to be his son. His bloody body,
twisted and broken — eyes staring… staring.
To his superiors the boy was just nameless
casualty, a brave young face doing his duty,
an innocent, pure life slayed in the path to victory.
In his mind, the old man saw a woman, senile and
advanced in age like himself, staring back at him with
a picture of the boy close to her breast.
To she, the boy had a name and someone to ensure he was
not just a number to be counted among the fallen.
© 2012 Jonathan Rowe