The war was over. And the men came back.
Some rode in ox-carts, those too sick to walk.
Some could not see and others could not talk.
They all missed something, aching at the lack
of friends who died beside them in the line
took the spear meant for them, parried a blow
but while the shield was up, were stabbed below
the navel, and spilled guts. Thought they were fine
until the shock wore off, gurgled and died.
And soldiers live with memories like those
and cope far better than you might suppose
but always feel the absence at their side
and drink, or gamble, cut themselves with knives
or whimper late at night heard by their wives