stands at the grave
blinded by brightness
feels a breeze at the back of his head
before returning to the trenches.
He puffs on a cigarette
puts an arm around the shoulders
of Mike, tells him it will be alright
as shells burst and the sergeant curses
and slams his rifle down.
The ground trembles.
Thomas backs into a tunnel
sits on a bunk
blankets plastered with mud
returns letter to envelope
sleeps, wakes, walks
back along country lanes to Boulogne.
A troop ship waits
to take Thomas back
over the grey sea
to the white cliffs and green grass
the Captain called his home.
Matthew West has a Creative Writing MA from the University of Southampton and is director of Artfulscribe, an arts organisation dedicated to poetry and live literature. His latest publication credit is with Interpreter’s House (Issue 57). Matt is also Southampton’s Poet Laureate for Children.