War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

the angel's share

Slainte mhath
North Atlantic peat-men
you cut fat cubes of smoke and heat,
trickled clear the water rite
for tongue, lips, throat, the belly,
re-created celebration, consolation, wisdom
that swallowed smooth all the way down,
was done, dusted, distilled
decades, hell, centuries,
before this war was invented.

Slainte mhath Orion
light Cubans,
break chocolate
tart and black as Kuchi tents
pegged by the Arghandab river,
palm almonds, freshly shaken/cured in Dande,
raisins made in grape huts used for grapes
not ordinance, not hiding nor attack;
cut wedges of pomegranate fat, red,
let them bleed on our fingertips
the colour of all our dead,
the colour of the hunter’s dress uniform pressed
for Brigade Officers’ Dinners in the mess,
that we should savour each glossy seed
so damned sour, so damned sweet;

Slainte mhath
say it aloud for the boy we witnessed,
though words are so God damned meaningless,
come far too late to do any good
for the boy carried, then shouldered
all the way home strapped
carefully, the tender side of war,
the one who’ll never know an afternoons’ best whisky;
pour for him, for ever here, now,
before the wind is up, the lanyards on the flag poles click,
and it’s too late for sails across this Great blue Lake,
say it before this moment passes as his cortège passes
beneath overpasses, down Canada’s own ring road,
a threnody of Harleys singing a lament
as the piper pipes his Flowers of the Forest
on hot black tarmac, and the turbines click click,
and a thousand people pull over to the side of the road,
go silent;

Slainte mhath
to the worn grass you stand on
within the starburst of the old bastion,
the Martello towers squat and sturdy,
such quaint limestone, so comfey in their history,
your shoes are buffed so black and shiny
we see reflections of ourselves
as you pour good whisky gone to ground,
and you are tired, have seen too much,
and I am so tired, have heard too much,
as we offer just for him
the angels’ share.


About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled the angel's share. It was posted here on May 22, 2010.

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