waiting. lines of men. waiting. silent. cold breath plumes in cold air. eyes speak – lowered in prayer, closed in prayer, wide open in fear. any moment was a long time coming. hungry. no breakfast – gut wound on a full stomach is fatal. pared down to battle dress. glassy eyes. face like chalk and bathed in sweat. the earth roars in rising pillars. shaking. wild thoughts beyond control. pressed elbow to elbow. frost imprinted on revetment walls. cold, so cold. leaden skies. chilled bones. warmed by rum. thumbs rub letters, photos, a rabbit’s foot. rituals and talismans - coded prayer for atheists in trenches, in foxholes, in denial. recanted faith traded for trusted devotion, in king, in country. necks bowed in cowardice, in dread, in bravery. tolerance and anxiety translated outside of language. an arm is raised. HOLY GOD. JESUS. MOTHER AND CHILD. whistle shrieks. bodies animate. planks scaled. ris ng above the par pet, rifle s at port. b ttle cri s f rom open m uths – w ithout bre th, without t sou nd. de fening. on e m an very two yards, advanc e - mak ng spac for th e next wav . and th y come. andth y c me. cre eping b rrage beh nd
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