|I met a man at Passchendaele|
With shovel and with cloth
Midstride atop a verdant ridge.
Green years past, when armies lived
amongst the honeysuckle grass
the tortured pounding of feet and drum
churned earth into jealous sludge.
In night and rain and bright of day
the pipers and the buglers’ call
drew sons and fathers to their ends.
Trapped in sucking holes
they made claws of their hands
to pull at first, then
hold above the soil after them
small monuments of flesh atop the sands.
By the regiment and by unit line
they sank into the waiting berm.
Now, these years gone by, sometime
on the heels of rain
or merely at the soil’s whim
brown bones appear in ravines and streams
and in the fields beneath mown hay or vine.
This man I met that day
will walk the fields again each week
for now and then he will come upon
one of these brave time-travelers.
With gentle voice and loving hands
he will remove them to a hero’s grave
relain in these fields not as victims but as sons.
One by one these once young men
arise from their hidden rests of years
to be met and cared for by
The Greeter of the Honored Dead.