He was 19 when it began
working as a printer
playing sport on Wednesday half holiday
and again Saturday afternoon.
Doing the things 19-year-olds do
learning about cigarettes and beer
and discovering women liked him
he always admitted surprise to that.
Grandma said he only had to hear a ball bounce
and would rush to join in.
just another game
minus Queensberry rules
it would all be over by Christmas
a chance to go to England
perhaps stay on and tour the continent.
as much him as the four yet to be born children.
strained through mud into DNA.
Very few of his intake returned
the family never knew the percentage
or exactly how many death declined at the smorgasbord
“not many.” Two words. One answer. Zero addition.
“Not many.” Usually defined by single figures.
Death. Always on the take
even when the present is vacated to past
an absentee landlord extracting arrears.
It wasn’t the nightmares
they ceased after two decades
the lungs of barbed wire
bloody mindedness overcame that
or the loss of beloved sport
self-employment abducted any training time.
It was youth
dead and buried in Belgium’s fields.
He was old at 21.
For the back story click Backstage
If you like a piece of writing (or the site) please share