Friday, September 14, 2012

Trees at the Somme

photoart: sharon auberle
Trees at the Somme
by Alice D’Alessio
What you notice first
is a landscape without presence,
motion or sound: a flat field,
a column of trees.

The red-brown soil buries
the cries of dying soldiers,
the blood and piss, the threads
of shredded fabric, buttons
and matted hair.  The soil
that someone tills each spring –
carving parallel scars in a sterile field
too full of cordite for anything to grow.

Time's merciful silting thickens.
Only a small brown hut
memorializes this place
and the trees, stark witnesses,
scarred by stray bullets lodged in their flesh.
If they could speak
to those who come in awe
to those too young to know;
could answer, what was it like?

Just once, would someone listen?
Or must we go on tilling poison soil
planting fields of sorrow.

~ first published in A Blessing of Trees (Cross + Roads Press)