This is a response to Charles Miller's Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub which was to annotate a poem to 'fill in the gaps." I don't know if I'll be entirely successful, since I'm far from sure exactly where this particular poem really came from, but here goes...
This poem has been sitting unposted in my files for several months because it troubles me. It has been difficult to rewrite it, or re-direct it in any way. Many of my poems come in the form of dreams, or as the ashes of a dream unremembered except for a few words. This one came fully clothed, all in one piece, extremely detailed, especially the smells described, and the sights were cinematically real.
It was so much like an interior documentary that I feel I should be able to assign names and faces and dates to the events in it; yet I’ve never been anywhere near a war, or part of a medical team, or indeed, in any crisis situation where someone else’s blood was flowing. At the time of the dream, no one I knew was ill or dying. I can only say I feel the characters are functioning as archetypes representing a sense of profound loss and disjunction with expectations, due to some personal family events, none of which involved death or physical trauma, shortly before the dream’s occurrence. I think sometimes our psych interprets emotions physically, and that this is a case in point.
That said, this was on the nightmare side of the dream world, and there are some graphic descriptions here, another reason why I’ve not posted it, so please, if you are squeamish, you might prefer not to read further.
I don’t know who you were
who came to me last night
a dream of a time of war
Your uniform was grey
the sky was grey
the ground a mud turned red
that never came from clay
I only know you loved me as I loved you
as we both loved
the shattered form before us, frail on
the blood slick table, close to death.
Hard hours we labored to save it
hard hours in sweat and battle’s filth, bathed
in the halitus of mortis, lapped by the slosh
and reek of the charnal house
till at last we looked up across the boards
and shared an uncertain smile
before you dropped down screaming to the dirt
your gut wound angry, pulsing out a fat grey mile
your hand to the blasted side kept turned from view,
and then I cried out over the stench you threw,
This is too much , too much,
not you, too.
Image: Untitled [antique surgical kit at International Museum of Surgical Science]
by Jeremy M Farmer, on flick'rShared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License