he didn’t have to lie about his age.
Almost all his friends and workmates did,
not to buy alcohol,
go to an R-rated film,
or a bar
but war : 18 was the minimum, he was 19 – a veteran.
They didn’t think of it as conflict or
only adventure ….
a trip to Europe, then home by Christmas
– he was: five Christmases later.
Travel, yes, Gallipoli, France, Belgium,
England twice for hospital
and Canada on the way home.
A lonely trip home, unfamiliar faces
most embarked with not there, no longer of this world.
At home in the South Seas
the small towns of his home province hosted the returnees,
parades, ceremonies and dances.
an attractive auburn haired young woman
they catch eyes and dance
an address is given, perhaps a kiss.
He visits the next afternoon
the door is opened by her mother, bearing a rifle
and telling him to be gone in, the direction from which he came.