from ‘Tucked in where they fell’

by Denise Riley

‘Tucked in’ isn’t quite how we’d put it.
We weren’t plumped up neatly in bed.
If you ‘fell’ as one piece you were lucky,
Not dismembered before you were dead. 

We wore dog-tags of vulcanised fibre
But those need their ‘dog’ to stay whole
Or to keep enough bone to be tied on
Not be draped on some tree in a scroll. 

Had we managed to get home living
We’d trouble you worse than the dead.
Shambling, like blind men, among you
And most probably gone in the head.

 So we’ve formed our heavenly choir
Composed of our melded limbs.
Each voices his part in the singing
We can’t disentangle our hymns. 

We get noisy as larks in the sunshine.
Your leg’s with his head over there.
My fist’s stuck upright from a dugout.
It’s clutching a hank of his hair.