farm w chickensA leafy eyeball sat near his knee. Everything smelled of iron and rot. One could hear the death coming from several pastures away, the smoke rising above wet sod to plot a specter of life where below men tearing fougasse and sharing wine and bidding good afternoon had been seen only an hour before. While farmers and soldiers became rosy with the fat of country, Panzers had come and provided the war where it had been difficult to locate. Our infantry unit had been on detail until the bridge at Douai was blown. We had come late to the party in Carvin. I bent down to release away from my boots.

His name was Gerald Tuller. He had been assigned a company up in Dunkirk before the war hero, Pétain, folded like a nyctinasty when the dark came. We had joined the party late. Gerald, Gerald from Buckhurst Hill, was covered in splatterings of his own brain and very much dead. This man had no mother, had no father, he had no god or country; he had no earth of his own or race of people; this was death itself, ugly swollen blasted shattered lifeless muddy everlasting death. Children flew a kite in the distance behind us where the smog was not to blow unless there was a change in the wind. They were brother and sister, I was now certain. I leaned away from my boots. Over the hum of the Panzers they were heard summoned for an early dinner; I froze my lungs and felt for the papers.