There is a moment immediately after an action
When silence is deaf to itself:
There is only the smell of discharged weapons,
And smoke. Fractured air reverberating
From concussion; the hammering of fire.
Hands slowly disconnect their grasp
From stock and pistol grip.
Sometimes at the second of release
The shaking starts, butterfly wings
In the wind.
But within a minute, perhaps less, quiet rushes
Like a wave to engulf ears, cheeks, lips, the dirt
That is dressed with cartridge cases, belt-link and
– pray God not me – scarlet flowers that resolve
Into dressing pads.
Until like the release of a dam, from trickle to flood,
Come the screaming assault, a drenching in oily whimpering
Signaling men trapped in agony with no merciful release.
And so it goes even after the years have drawn tight
And the memories have been ingested.
One day a man meets a woman. They duel consensually
Drawing blood lightly with humour and intrigue.
But both are wary, carrying lessons from earlier actions
With dressing held ready to staunch the flow.
Copyright © 1994 – Jerry Beale
I wanted to describe how difficult it had been for me to allow anyone close to me after my experiences as a soldier. I felt dirty and damaged, and certain that anybody who looked into my soul would somehow be harmed.