Grenada born poet, RL Bartholomew spins a yarn about two soldiers returning to the scene of battle
Under a blanket of stratus grey
A rusting blade lay on the sand
Teased and washed
By the chafing surf.
It was a Sikorsky’s limb
Shifted and broken by the tide
Or dragged there by school boys
As if they might fly and fly
Towards the horizon.
Those urgent, furious, Paladins
Quicksilver in their youth
Are old men now
But two ambled across the beach
Yellow sun caps glistening-
As they pointed out salients
And slapped each other’s backs.
Suddenly, a rasping thud ahead made them
And thirty years remote
They watched – as frangible as ordnance-
As a fleet of helicopters – closing in on caterpillars-
Strafed the green, blindly, like one episode
From that damned book.
The rain dropped like blunted arrows
And laughing, skittishly, the rheumatic warriors
Legged it towards the sheltering ribs
Of a rusted trireme
Idling on a green expanse of jade…
Three decades before
The roaring fighters had felt it race
Towards a prize of hills
Leaving behind a pride of shells
To trouble the fight or resurrect the dead…
But crouched behind a machine gun’s trace
The farmer’s steel had deliquesced
In the face of a torrid beauty
Which drew them to this place.
He knew then he would be back.
Back with the boy whose vomit
Sloshed across the deck like surf….
They sped, darkly, across the land
Peering through mists for lovelorn
Thieves and overreaching vagabonds.
Today, sea breezes buffet the sheltering carcass
Rattle the rusting altimeters
As the rain wash their faces
The mobile phones
And the ghosts inside them.