I stand, dusty boots, on the battlefield.
So many years have passed
And so many feet shod in the fashion of each year,
Stood where I stand.

Were our thoughts the same?
Of course; we are, none of us unique.
What of those who woke to die that day?
They milled around cleaning boots
Drinking bitter coffee.
Chatting to comrades, anticipating fresh meat from the hunt planned for later.

No ghost voices warned them that they had only a few hours to breathe this earth’s air.
No supernatural warning to save them from the dusty creeping boots climbing upwards.
Squatting over the latrine or leaning against a tree in the breaking light.
No warning….

The fierce fury of battle and the sharpness of pain, dulled by adrenalin.
The grazing fall onto dry red ground.
The moment of shock and sudden darkness or the lingering agony, soothed by faint hope.
The red red sun of dusk.
Mothers far away in England, take bread from the oven.
No ghostly voices of fallen sons warn of the mourning to come.

I stand on the hill where they fell.
Many hills – Briton and Boer and Zulu warrior fell.
And I feel that life is so very very short and I too might be busy about simple chores
When the end comes. Because we are all the same.


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