He cut his hand and it bled, the flesh
inside was red and the hurt discounted
vibrant flows of blood that pulsed eagerly
from the wound. But he was a warrior,
a son whose mien did not countenance
the pain so he stalked scornfully from
the field of death, the wound bound
casually in strips of flax
When he returned from the dead he said
he cut himself hunting pigs with a bayonet.
I remember the way he said it, bandaged
hand borne nonchalantly, a shy smile, an
unambiguous admission, but he was scared
more than I knew and dared I should know
for I learned, and we made amends for his
sore, disabled hand. I wrote for him as I
couldn’t read the words he penned to tell
our teachers what he knew, and thus I
learned a new Harry.
When I wrote the first poem he said
it was too much for such triviality,
the death was metaphoric, after all.
Time passed quickly as it does
and our meetings were rare,
and then I was told he had died.
I cried, I was ashamed I never spoke
with him and his beloved fiancée,
telling that I cared and shared their pain.
Now forty years on I am writing again,
but Harry, poor Harry, is dead.
© I.D. Carswell
For Harry Walker, my Training
College roommate in 1964