GRENADA REVISITED: DOWN MEMORY LANE OF AN INVASION

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Grenada born poet, RL Bartholomew spins a yarn about two soldiers returning to the scene of battle

SALIENTS

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

And time

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

Spin

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.

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