The Front Line
On June 25, 2020

The alarm sounds

Ripping through the dawn silence

You wake and remember

And as you do your mouth dries

Again, today, again

You drag you shreds together, check your kit

Always check your kit

(Remember the Sergeants during training

“Your kit will keep you safe, keep you alive

Always check your kit”)

Gown, face mask, cap, visor, gloves

(There is no rifle, bullets have no place in this war)

You check again but realise you are delaying

You shrug and wonder if you will get through this day

And not become a number, a statistic, a casualty

Then through the streets like support trenches

Empty apart from others like you

Heading forward, dreading, hoping

Never thinking of turning back

Until there, against the bright blue morning sky

The concrete, glass and steel that marks the front

The Line (There is no barbed wire,

Barbed wire has no place in this war)

You check your kit and mount the fire step

Raise your head above the sandbags

Brace and wait to surge forward with your mates

To do your duty, come what may

The enemy is everywhere in hidden redoubts

Well camouflaged as nothing at all

Entrenched on every surface

Concealed in every drop of breath

In every touch and caress

(You cannot even comfort the dying

The risk if far too great)

There are sick and wounded, there are many dying

Some swiftly, mercifully, others lingering

Fighting for every last agonising breath

Yet you do not pause, you care and keep on caring

Save and keep on saving, fight and keep on fighting

Day after dreadful, fear filled day

Knowing that it all comes down to you

And your mates


Dulce et decorum est

It is sweet and honourable

And we all honour you, we all honour you


© David Hermelin 2020

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