Verdun crossing

Caught like a wasp under the tumbler
of a stifling Verdun summer afternoon,

an ocean of dark trees
decants me to an open place.

A thousand rows of crosses
cross a thousand equal rows.

School parties tumble out of coaches,
ready to be bored by history.

Among the endless lines an old man’s
tacking to and fro in search of names

of men who drowned in mustard gas
crossing a sea of mud and shattered trees.

The wood stretches forever.
This must be fertile soil.

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