Johnn Schroeder

MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER

He was a young man, laying in a shallow hole
as shells tore up the ground around,
the sound prevented even thought
as he screamed in fears deep mindless rage.
A blinding light, a shock of sound,
and searing pain drove him to the ground,
he sat back in the hole:
he felt as if it were another darker and more brutal age.

He looked in shock at the steaming mess in his lap,
his guts lay there in a pile unbound;
the waves of pain ripped into his mind,
and shock and terror filled his heart with outrage.
Amid the barrage of falling shells,
another man dived into the hole to shelter in lower ground,
as he turned to check the place, he saw the uniformed man,
saw he was the enemy engaged.

Then he saw the bloody mess and the shock of the wide, wide eyes,
the pale face of Death hell bound,
the newcomer slumped to the side of the wounded
and looked at his own mortality uncaged.
The wounded man could speak not a word,
but his eyes help a plea of need in this hell-ground,
the newcomer saw those eyes,
and realized the need was great, the pain to assuage.

The enemy was just a boy, not unlike himself,
and the soldier reach out a hand as to a wounded hound,
it didn’t seem wrong to share a drink, and the wounded smiled,
his eyes gave thanks, if one could gauge.
The wounded man reached into his collar and pulled out a small tin cross,
on chain’s end it swung around,
the wounded man tried to speak but failed,
and then the soldier understood the silent mans badinage.

The soldier reached into his pack and pulled out a small book,
flipped it open and laid it on the ground,
he read the words in a language the wounded man spoke not,
yet it was enough they were on that page.
The soldier read the words and looked into the eyes of the man on the ground,
and a soft smile there found,
the wounded man closed his eyes and smiled
as Death took him to his Paradise I wage.

The young old soldier carefully put the book away,
the manual of gun care was not needed this round,
he carefully laid the silent man down,
and spoke a prayer with all the wisdom of an ancient mage.
The soldier was silent and gave the moment to the dead,
remembering this moment of war run aground,
The moment passed, the soldier rose,
and the soldier left the grave to return to war’s terrible rampage.