Old soldiers


He barely remembers Verdun and then when that was done
it was Passchendale 
but now old and frail on a walking frame
with a gammy leg full of cold shrapnel
from the hell
of the bravery
in the war to end all slavery.

He moves slowly along the top of the cliff
leg quite stiff in the stiffening breeze.
And the falling stars
those medals with bars upon his lapel
another reminder
from the long ago hell.

He hears the pipers
fears the snipers but they’ve all gone
somewhere on the Somme.

Lulled into some false sense of serenity
I took my eyes off him and didn’t see
him go over the top
Pulled away
and then he rose and went marching off across the morning bay
to meet his friends
(from a friends battalion,somewhere up Wigan way)
I watched them as they knelt to pray
and then go off into yesterday
to fight a war
and win their 
peace.

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