Tracing Heaven











High terrain
Of lust white flint soil where the globe was
Whether yours or mine, Picardy, when
Voices breath fester
A place where this happens standing or
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
Past every house, new
And the churches, new
Re-gilded Madonna and abbreviated
Shovelled to order
Merge horses!
Creation didn’t follow. 
I will write this on sky
With you
The long avenue 
Chill shiver wind
Thiepval, again,
–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

 Montage: Claire Palmer




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One Response to Tracing Heaven

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

      Comment by Phil Ruthen on 18 August, 2015 at 11:28 pm

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