Lest We Forget; A Night Shift In 1978

by | Nov 5, 2009 | Poetry | 0 comments

Every night it’s the same
The nightmare wakes you,
Your internal turmoil
Shown in trembling hands
Perspiration soaked body
And searching fearful eyes.
Words are not in your control
They come in staccato like commands
Get down, get down
Masks on, mustard gas
Mustard gas is here,
Throttle like choking sounds
Invade your throat,
I take your trembling hand
And hold it still between two of mine,
My eyes reach out to you
Wanting you to see me
And come back to this night,
Its three a m, it’s my shift
In this place, a nursing home
Where you now live.

I help you from your bed
And as you sit in a comfy chair
Wringing your hands
Wiping away the tears,
I roll you a cigarette
For I know it will take away
The taste of the gas.
Next I bring tea
And together we silently sup it.
You are calmer now
But still so far away,
Unable to speak of
The trench warfare
All those years ago;
You come from a generation
Of men whose emotions
Were classified information.
I want to say thank you
For all that you’ve done
For the self that you’ve given,
For your friends
Whose life ended in their youth,
But I know those are words
That have to remain unspoken.
It’s my privilege instead
To share tea with you
Through these nightly terrors
That now have a name;
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
But back then
You and many others
Kept this pain to yourself,
As Armistice Day approaches
My memory of you is clear
And I shall never never forget.


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