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Spanbroekmolen
[Brussels. February 1992]

Smoor clings to the fifty eight
as tenaciously as they
clung to life then, in Seventeen,
that June when the forest
might have been green
instead of splintered mulch
& mud 'round dead Irish Rifles.
all killed together, their remains
batched in eternal congress
under pale marble markers
on an island in muddy
asparagus flats churned
recently by farmers' tractors,
not German steel lofted coolly
from hill to dale, down on the trenches,
poured men at men
not man to man,
the product of mathematics.
Teutonically precise,
nothing personal, a matter of edict
sent pointedly by strangers
on the fifty eight, cowering there
or charging stupidly, we will never know;
there are no markers on these walls
to commemorate reasons
or its lack, only outcomes and names
among the chalky scat of hares
amidst the muddy flats and dormant seed,
life to return spring-like, later
when the air warms and chills ebb.
Old cycles known (not understood)
put seeds back to life
while Irish Rifles lie dormant
in eternity, that better place,
if one believes such speculation,
fifty eight men and boys dispatched,
unnoticed,
visited now only by brown hares
grazing on grave-grass in the smoor.


 
 
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