They dreamed the dreams of dirt,
flailing, being buried alive in
trenches bombed to splinters
that shredded eye and bone.
Silence made them edgy.
Bombardment, thunderous and rattling,
was the song by day and by night.
Torrents of metal shards
were new birds in their skies.
They knew sea-blue was a colour of the past;
now red everywhere, tawny rock, white snow.
Rats ate their hair while they slept.
They wrapped their faces against
pincers of enemy and nature.
Lousy, their skin removed itself constantly,
was a peeling unveiling thing of its own nature
creeping backward for the memories
of smooth bronze summers
on Kızıl Adalar or Bawley Point.
The brain kept telling them
listen to the boss, the captain, the commander
but their legs yearned to run anywhere, backwards.
They knew that in the bowl of their brain
their friends remained whole, young, happy. But
their bloodied hands collecting fleshy jigsaw-pieces
knew the lie as open graves filled up
and no way of knowing who was in there.