Sackville, New Brunswick

CHRISTMAS TRUCE

Snapped up by the colossal magnet of war, men
brain-fevered pack troop trains, relieved of sweethearts,
shaking off familiar dust for
exotic bloodmud,
useless seed lavished
in hundreds of miles
of hand-dug homes,
two mirror lines facing off
from Ypres to St. Mihiel,
a rare opportunity to watch yourself
die.

Then on Christmas Eve, 1914, the guns fall silent and men
move dreamlike toward one another in
limbic exchanges
of smokes and puddings, cognac and newspapers,
relieved of hate, eyes desiring simple
recognition
and suddenly the frontal lobes kick in
and no-man’s land becomes absurd theatre,
the next step
beyond comprehension.

So with dawn, the cheery farewells, see ya Fritz, see ya Englander,
addresses hastily written
before leaving the field
fertile with tens and tens of thousands like them
to flex once again that old
reptilian muscle.

Marilyn Lerch, League of Canadian Poets

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