Wayne Miller

The war stopped precisely

where it was. Soldiers

mortared foundations

inside their fighting positions —

then they erected walls,

then windows and roofs. At night

they gazed from their bedrooms

down into the valley

with its dim town

they’d failed to enter. Trenches

swelled with rainwater;

soon punts and tour boats

slipped over the dugouts.

So many of the structures

we lived among — that shaped

our days — belonged to the war.

Tanks packed with silence

rested in the square. Bombers

hovered — frozen —

above their targets,

and the children wondered

at what was up there.

They began climbing the ladders

of bombs hanging from the sky —

and when the most daring

reached the bays to clamber

finally into the cockpits, the war

snapped back into motion.


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