County Kent, England

Unusual heat boiled the tar out of sleepers, as turquoise dragonflies left cross-stiched streams over a pond resembling 1940s Britain. A tad stagnant and murky green
Perhaps it was a large puddle of displaced Thames, heaved to Kent by a metal hammer?

The sexagenerians held us up, looking for lost years in the bushes
In pastel shirts and high waisted pants they retired on the watered greens while we wiped their chins with our three wood socks

Waiting, our deftly rolled cigarettes of shag and rice burnt a thin trail of smoke, wafting through Churchill’s Eden
Not the smoke of fires, of smoldering terraces, of crying children and hot, packed underground stations with their tinned, swaddled masses

No, think of them as wee victory flares, traces from a hero’s pyre
Snaking souls of ash bound for some kind of blessed heaven where courage and selflessness are rewarded one thousand-fold

Underneath the very same sky one could hear a barrel-chested battle cry from the manicured palisades
As we swung our bayonets, whipping tiny white incendaries past bunkers into holes we were roused by wit and humour, buoyed by an unattainable wisdom
Afterwards we’d try and count the books on the shelves, sealed by the lacquer of time

This is what they fought for
Arcadia, Albion under their feet
In the wings and hulls, the shells, the tanks, the hearts, the sleeves
In their grinding teeth and wringing hands, the rolling hills and deep valleys
All theirs then, and now ours

The rose, the apple, the rhubarb patch and bumblebees
The chestnut and the carp and the willow tree


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