When you have walked through a town, as an infantryman
You'll never go through streets the same way again.
There is shoulder-ache from rifle sling, and sore
butt-bruise, of bolt, on hip and thigh.
The walk comes somewhere between lope and slow hike,
a wary step, splay-footed, as drawers cellular,
catch in the crotch, twist centrifugally around.
Our lot moved at slow, deliberate plod, eyes down, look out.
Ted walked on the left, looks right; I took the right;
looked left. Well spaced out, bloody tired all the time.
Ted and I had a reputation, in Four Section, for hitting
the deck, together, quick as a flash, at the first shell.
Ted had a nose for crossroads ranged by guns.
Infantrymen grow fat in later years, from never walking.
Ted would have become quite gross. But Ted's dead.
Stepped on an AP mine in champagne country.
Cheers, Ted, you old sod, you.
- From Oasis into Italy -- Shepheard-Walwyn Ltd (1983)