Horrifying noises of the battle
screams of orders
voices of other soldiers
barely penetrated his consciousness.
Head pressed against the sandbags of the parapet
he was terrified.
Haunting thoughts of his sweetheart
begging him not to enlist
pleading with him that it was not his war
but succumbing to the pressures
of other boys and townsfolk
who were seduced by calls
to fight for King and Country.
Father’s stoic handshake
backslapping encouragement to give them hell
Mother’s tearful hug
imploring him to keep safe
the boat trip and Egypt
before being deployed,
all seemed like an instant ago.
Entering no man’s land
he met massacring enemy fire.
As an Australian, the legends of the ANZACs have loomed large in our national ethos but if I had of been in the same situation, whether that was at ANZAC Cove, Fromelles, Villers-Bretonneux or any battle in any war, I know I would have been petrified.
Rob McKinnon lives in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. His poetry has previously been published in Re-Side Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow Literary Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Dissident Voice, Tuck Magazine and InDaily.