The Healing of the Past

As I walked down through the fields of death,
Blown over as they were, by a sinister breath,
I sensed in the shadows a deeper shade yet;
An image which I will never forget.

There was no evil hidden in that place;
Just a man who lay dying, and with upturned face,
He looked to the sky and the ashes around,
As if listening for the trumpet’s sound.

But God it seemed had postponed Judgement Day,
And through the torn clouds, there appeared a golden ray,
Which revealed the man’s face, all smudged and grim.
And as I stood there, these words came from him.

“How can the sun which illumines me now,
Be the same as the one which once colored my brow,
In another time and place quite far from here,
With green fields and a lake like a mirror?

Where once I roamed in the emerald hills,
And waded in cool blue streams below water-mills,
Plucking red flowers from the sweet-smelling grass,
Hearing the church bells summon all to Mass.

Strolling village streets on a bright spring day,
All content and happy but with little to say,
Hearing birds chirp in the clean Bilbury air,
As breezes blew softly through my hair.

The good village people would laugh and chat,
As I walked to my home and across the doormat
To a good, simple, and most hearty dinner.
Forgive me, Lord; I’ve become a sinner!”

He finished speaking; the clouds went away.
The fiery sun set on that most horrible day.
And as the man lay there with a pensive face,
Tears sprang from his eyes, provided by grace.

And as the earth darkened, his face lit up;
Overcome, it would seem, by this refreshing jump
Into the depths of the unreachable past,
In whose comforting grip, one cannot last.

He died that night, but in peaceful repose,
In the burnt field over which the cold wind blows.
And as the stars came out, flickering with light,
One gold ladder descended through the night.

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This poem was inspired mainly by my study of the Battle of the Somme, and my own experience of nostalgia.