The first to fall.
like dazzling shells littering the coast,
never to hear their mother’s voice again.
How many of our finest fell that first landing?
How many young men barely shaven?
How many heard the call to arms,
heard the words of honor or valor and came running?
How many could not turn aside for fear of the finger
pointed at them as they passed,
or the look in the eyes of their fathers or brothers
so they came with swords and shields and died before it even began?
Died there on the shore of the Scamander
their swords untested, their shields shining their bright dreams
in the sun that shone down that day we beached before Troy
and were met with arrows.
How many fell? Too many.
One…one bright boy would be too many
but it was far more than that—enough to stain
that alien sand red. Enough that carrion birds
came in their squawking thousands to feast.
And would they have come, those boys
if they had known they would die that first day,
the first day of ten years?
And the others? Those who fell
or were maimed or simply lost in time,
would they have come, too, knowing ten years would pass?
Oh what fools we men are, with our brave words and adventurous hearts
that lead us to kill or be killed—perhaps
because we can never again return to our mother’s arms.
Or perhaps because of the eyes our fathers’ cast upon us…
eyes that know what we really desire
and laugh—or worse
send us off to fight the wars
and die on the shores of lands
distant from the earth where we were born.