february on flanders moss

in morning sunshine
feathers black as mourning silk
death perches on a leafless tree

behind my back
my shadow stretches
a silent ghost

wraithed in mists, dark firs wait
like forgotten Roman armies
doomed to haunt the edge of time

a scots pine, stunted, stands
its branches gnarled as an ancient’s hands
begging kindness from the rushing clouds

in a flat green field, ditched around with brown, a scarecrow leans,
the next along lies face-down in a muddy shroud
forgotten fallen soldier in a sodden Scottish Somme

a shot rings out, a cloud of herons lift
into a sky of gun-metal grey
forty wings in a flap

late evening sun slants
the moss beneath my feet
emits a human gurgling sound

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