'I cannot stay to tea!' I cried,
whisked in through A and E
past sterilizers, stainless steel
that steamed like mother's pots at home -
I really hadn't time:
two armies poised for war, I'd left;
huns hunkered down among my sheets,
the allies ranged on Eider Down.
The stretcher was a magic rug,
but how was I to know
I'd pass a cushy war, laid back -
and most of it in bed?
I had expected gas attacks
(Dad warned of oxygen);
but with the ward a makeshift barracks
(itself a crafty ploy)
I tested secret weapons -
which even nurses, though they brought
those weapons to me, didn't know.
They'd bring me two huge bell jars
joined by rubber tubes,
one filled with purple liquid
or pink or startling green.
Then through another tube I'd blow
the secret fluids jar to jar.
And from those deadly juices
brave back room boys - like me! -
would conjure up the victories,
unsung, unknown, unseen.
The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea. Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone. Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves...
It all depends, you see, how you go about it. And that I cannot tell you, for that will be dictated by you and by you knowing your friends...
extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
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