Tracing Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High terrain
Of lust white flint soil where the globe was
Thrown
 
Whether yours or mine, Picardy, when
Voices breath fester
A place where this happens standing or
study
To a few bars of ballad
 
Sigh single or in small groups
 
Approach to Albert
Our volunteers’ glade
Trees mount a rise
Large like them with packs
Burnt headless ghosts
Over to the left
Lies one felled
 
Town’s Phantoms
Dream-stirred cling
Sullen ash shadows shake the auberge
Too near my bed
Mud swirls
Thunder’s broken
To a non-attribution of bones
 
Roots of relatives
Corpses collected after shallows
After ploughing
It must have happened
As the drunk walk
By a cart with a spade
Mostly as burn onto shovel
Still burn
The slops that are local boys mixed
With lime
Chinese orderly unlucky unlucky
Frowns in a corner-edge grave
Ordinance heath-blasted
More underfoot
Still birth
 
Write it long
A year on from the end of still burning 
 
Best mate and lover
If everybody turned
And left
If everyone what
Went
Past every house, new
And the churches, new
 
Re-gilded Madonna and abbreviated
Hussars
Shovelled to order
Merge horses!
 
Creation didn’t follow. 
 
I will write this on sky
With you
The long avenue 
 
Somme.
 
Chill shiver wind
Thiepval, again,
 
Song:
–Why are you here?

 

Phil Ruthen  


© Philip Ruthen 2010. Written largely in note form in situ
at Thiepval battlefields’ memorial, the memorial for the
hundreds of thousands of fallen combatants still ‘missing’
and below the earth of the Somme arenas, First World
War.

 Montage: Claire Palmer

 

 

 


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One Response to Tracing Heaven

  1. Phil Ruthen says:

    Thank you Claire, and I thought your montage apt and movingly appropriate.
    All best,
    Phil

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