Monday, February 02, 2009

Portsmouth Thoughts (redraft)

Portsmouth Thoughts

With the marksman's lead threaded in his spine,
they took him down to settle in the rocking dark
alert to the cracks of battle: splintering wood;
powdery bags heft from copper store to cannon;
sharp wine in water; shouts; sweat. He bled
in his ship of skin, three hours to reach death.

We know him by his ship. I can guess this other
caught in a glass display. He was a barber-surgeon
sunk and drowned with his chest of knives and herbs,
his leather shoe, his dice and coins, his bone nit-comb
- tombed in Solent muds to wait on God's restoration.
His name is with his bones; I do not know his face.

I want to stitch wounds, make whole the world, but
this hand that would hold a needle was once the air
they breathed, the food they ate; soon to be mite-meal.
We are the blood and bone of England: it will suffice.

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