At the Beaumont Hamel Memorial France

Moya Pacey

It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.

The boy’s letter hangs straight on the pale wall,
‘Don’t cry Mary, this way we won’t starve
I promise I’ll be home for Christmas.’
His penmanship is upright and precise.
Steady hands that Somme morning pulling
On bright blue puttees; fingering
His caribou insignia and pleased
That he does not stink of fish.

He wants to be gone over the top
With the other eight-hundred Newfies–
Farmers and fishermen–
Dead men who stepped out
Heads bent; chins tucked in
Against the fierce snow of battle.