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.