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Hill 60
[Flanders. February 1991]

On a verdant wedge of
frosted key lime pie,
a ridge there in Flanders
south of Wipers
near the sunken railbed
once contested by scrambling,
clanking, stiff-legged men,
their bones brittle with hoarfrost,
up against the guns
rushed the Hun and
Kings Rifles, back and forth,
a game of give and take
and give again, or take,
high ground the only point,
really, sixty meters above the
sea's level was all
and now just ground,
its scars covered with spongy lichen,
a carpet for children,
big-boned, pink-cheeked infants,
Christian youth, a club
scampering about, limbs akimbo,
wiggling Barbary apes quick-
chattering with good fellowship,
oblivious to the dark secrets
buried beneath their Adidas.
Eight on a pillbox,
adolescent boys and girls
smiling obediently
for a Hasselblad on tripod,
anxious to be captured
for all eternity,
not knowing or caring,
and no way to know
what that means.
Soldiers turned sheep, replacements,
a ram with swollen brisket
herds his harem to a grassy knoll,
their rumps sprayed red or green;
he makes peace with all strains
it seems, that ram
hot for his ladies on Hill 60.
Now and again Winter
and tectonic thrusting
pushes up rusty shrapnel
or yellowed fibias, mementos,
bits of this or that,
yesterday's grisly gewgaws
brought forward through time,
deposited in plain sight
at the feet of children and sheep
which have no eyes
for anything but themselves.


 
 
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