Flame Red

by Kutloogh Qureshi

I do swear that I will be faithful

She holds my shoulders at arm’s length:
Polished boots, hot khaki and
She pins on a flower and tells me not
To forget. A flame red against my chest.

and bear true allegiance

I can’t seem to get warm. Cold metal
In my arms and ice in my gut.
Flame red. I should take it off
But I’m scared I’ll forget the colour.

to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,

And war’s shouting at my ear
Daring me to hesitate.
So, I let the cold sink in its claws
And I don’t look back.

her heirs and successors, according to law.

He pretends that our friends
Aren’t lying a few yards away
That those are just shapes
In the soulless dark.

He makes a joke. We laugh on
Command and I look down to find
My flame lost to the war –
Dropped some place in the ruin.

So help me God.