The Fragrance at Flanders
This was not scented Alps
where nothing but the daylight changes,
nor descending by the Starnberger See
after early exercise, strolling into
the Hofgarten to drink coffee with friends
as unbridled talk merges
with the expanse of morning.
Nor was this a plunge
into a Bloomsbury morning
of Clarissa opening French windows
to the breath of a summer day. Nor a
blackbird singing in the daze of early light,
or the buying of flowers while thoughts distract
to the arrangement of a party.
At Flanders, in the half-born morning
body after body fell
indiscriminately into the mud.
Each man glad to take their final leave,
exuding a common stench
until it accumulated in a message
that couldn’t be ignored.
For a brief moment
there was a lull in the fighting
as the men were buried.
And for once there was a sensitivity
as if Christ had walked out of dead flesh
to bring together both sides –
or just nature self-correcting.
Richard Scutter 25 April 2011