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Tuesday 17 May 2011


I could see that he was up for it,
the soldier on the parapet,
I'd seen that straight away.
The theory always was that we should listen.
Listening was key.
          But not for him          I'd sensed that from the off.
He wanted me to talk
          was all geared up for listening. Expected that.
He didn't seem at all like us.
          I guessed
his training had kicked in.

Not like the rest of us when we get up each morning
          if we can do it all again today.
He could have done it all, all right
and he knew he could
          no doubt of that.
But what was there to say?

Words would not come
          or came together
and in no telling sequence.
Out of joint.
I strung them out
                                        like hankies on a line
and found a hint
          of syntax
or a tinge of sense
but not his sense perhaps
                              they'd by-passed that
with all th usual platitudes:
I wouldn't want to go that way, was one.

This time, he seemed not to have heard.
And then it clicked, his eyes hard-focussed on the water.
You know a better way? One
that you might share?

My turn to look down at the water then.
Not really, no.
He looked at me.
          You're wanting something, mister?
And then I saw          the back of his right hand          tattooed
a Save the Panda motto and design.
You care about endangered species?
why I said that.
what he then made of it.

I saw myself a child again,
a wooden six gun in my hand.
(War time. You couldn't get the real thing, so my dad
had carved it from a single piece of wood.)          And there I was
striking my best friend across the forehead
                                        drawing blood.

The connection - if there was one - was the child's          emotional
like me with pleurisy
          seeing sterilizers steaming in some A and E
and making it quite clear
          I wouldn't stay to tea.

I told the soldier on the parapet my tale of friendship
loss and violence.          He asked
about its outcome          
like were we friends again, my friend and I?
          I said we were.

And then he smiled, thanked me for listening          his voice now soft
          you might say feminine
and then he shook my hand
and jumped.


Jim Murdoch said...

Did not see that ending coming. Mind you I should have. (A second reading always helps.) Quite effective this.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this one David.

anthonynorth said...

Edgy with a great ending. Excellent.

Corinna said...

Nice snippet. Nicely woven together, the two soldier stories.

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable indeed because of the surprise ending which i didn't see coming at all :-).

Dave King said...

Thanks Jim. I find increasingly that I need second and third readings! Much appreciate the feedback.

Thanks for that.

Good to know you saw it that way. Thanks.

Thanks for a useful comment.

Pleasing. Thanks.

Liz Rice-Sosne said...

Well, I had a second reading ... and did not see the end coming either. But I loved it. It brought up feelings of memory ... some sense of nostalgia and I was so happy ... and then clump! He jumped.