The exhumation squad’s verses

by Denise Riley

Exhumation squads dug to unearth them
In bits that got dropped in cloth bags
While one man stood by with his notebook
Recording all readable tags.

It was not the most popular service
Retracing those old trench charts
Then shaking off well-rotted khaki
From almost unknowable parts.

One father pitched up to bribe us
To hand him a charred scrap of shirt.
He’d worked out it was his son there.
We told him the thing was just dirt.

Blood mud had thickened to rich mud
Which settled as grassed-over clay.
Matching pieces with names wasn’t easy
Despite what ‘their’ new headstones say.