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Sport 40: 2012


page 267


the russian wood was what we avoided, where
we didn’t dare go, where thick wads of light rose
to the tops of the spruce trees, red, where the ash
from fag butts and misshapen steel clogged up
the ditches that bordered the field. at the edge of the
village tables shifted and something would wake us
up late: there was, further on, the end of the path.

Achtung! landmines access forbidden/ heath land
obstruction clearing moss fringe/ crater and deer
empty villages/ brickworks heather. there were

convoys of lorries, tanks, dark green tarpaulins
with blokes inside, all in rows, their backs to us,
forty or more, their heads shaved. and there was
this guy once who stood there for four hours,
in july, in the heat, on the crossing alone, till thirty
of them trundle past in their hardware and he raises

his right arm/ give way military/ until dust and
the barking of dogs and he didn’t budge/ skinny
lad sunset/ centre strips green. they had always

been there and sometimes stripped the slats
from the fences, sliced off the cabbage tops
shot at the poultry and, when they were full,
pushed on to the fishpond, the sun, and set about
swapping badges with the kids, red and sickle
for friendship. the ones that did that did not
   stay around long. we waited in vain.