They were alive
and playing cards
in an eight foot trench
that was covered like
Eve and I had point
alone on our Italian beach.
The Germans had artillery
so reaching that grunts robbed
of rest – all of them-
might disappear unclaimed
for weeks. I caught a private
and brought him back at dawn.
The captain said, take him there
behind those trees and hurry back.
To kill like that. I marched
behind the bastard and he knew
and wept. I was seeing things
from lack of sleep. I saw my father standing
on the platform by my returning train,
the haunted question of him; I saw
stars on collars finally unpinned
and the manual of arms above our
barn filled with grain. The German
knelt and light specked him unfed
and leather hooved. There were leaves
and I was dappled too.
—Charles Bane Jr.