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Dies Cinerum

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It seems that he's spent all his life waiting
In the dark, ready for the order,
'Stand down, the war is over,
The good guys won,
The bad guys lost.'

That's a lie.

There's nothing so bad
He says,
That it cannot be forgiven,
But he does not forgive himself
For standing silent in the dark.

Stay quiet son, still as a mouse,
Whatever happens,
Stand guard, protect this house.

And he stands sentry, a wee soldier,
Braced against the night,
A skeleton in his mother's closet.

Flash bang,
The firework smell
Curls like poison in the dark.

A thud, as something falls.

A day, and a night, and a day.
At some strange point he falls too.
Eyes fasten upon his mother's face,
Sculpted out of ice,
Frosted with fine lace.

His father comes, at last,
Stacatto, flickering.
A cry, a stoop, a stutter,
Then a gasp, and reels him in.

And the faces come and go,
And cross and pass.

Black and white,
They're dressed like ravens,
Magpies perhaps...
But she loved colour.
Mourning does not sit with her.

Yellow would make her smile.

He draws colours on his hand.

Not red.

And the mouths moving,
Hands patting,
While all the while he still
Can't talk.

Then the long silence.

A silence between the last men standing.

His father grows a beard,
And takes out the red stained carpet,
Heaps up a bonfire, bone fire on it.

And little Benny watches,
Her last trace, her last stain
Vanish.

Blood and ashes on the snow.