Rose Mary Boehm
No More Water-heavy Nights
Leaning over the basin,
sharp, cold water in my cupped hands,
I immerse my face.
Look up. The mirror still
steamed up from the shower
my lover took before he left.
I heard the door slam.
Following him with my eyes
through the window,
even in the bleak pre-dawn
I can make out the urgency
to be gone from the way
he holds his back.
The street lights die
all at once.
Over the Western Front (1916)
A communal grave if you were
lucky. Nothing to remember you by.
No-one knows your names. Pieces of charcoal,
lumps of flesh. Buried where you
fell out of the air, shot down like
clay pigeons by artillery shells.
You were seventeen going on seventy. Had
to learn fast. Bravura and fear, camaraderie,
friendly punches and dances thrown
by the village elders for the young heroes,
their daughters know what’s good for the country.
Hunt the Hun with the sun in your back. They invented
the game and the formation. Efficient
as always. Even when not flying in combat
your life was counted in hours. Many aircraft
came with flawed everything, and the generals
decreed that parachutes would make cowards
of you, wanting the planes back
rather than you, until they
ran out of pilots.
Still, you could expect to live
for several weeks until the shells claimed
you. The young are immortal.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm now lives and works in Lima, Peru. Two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS) have been published in the UK. Her latest poems have appeared - or are forthcoming - in US poetry reviews.