Saturday, 1 August 2020

Shweta Prasad, Poetry 2020 Longlist

One Last Time 

The night was warm. 

Giggles loitered, 

around our small table. 

Lily's smile filled my heart, 

As supper filled our bowls. 

Holding Lily's tiny hands, 

prayer broke the silence, 

Amen. 

A loud bang hit the door, 

amidst the tinkling spoons. 

The siren was screaming. 

Welcoming us, 

to the cold nights, 

of September 1914! 

With a heavy sack, 

with a heavy heart, 

As heavy as the hand of death, 

by the same token of the others, 

I too had to leave. 

Tears tore apart the station, 

preparing us for the war! 

Cassandra looked beautiful! 

I took Lily in my arms, 

she questioned "why can't I come with u daddy?" 

Silent tears and strength rolled down, 

The father in me said "Be daddy's brave girl" 

I kissed Cassandra, 

I wished if it weren't our last. 

"I promise I'll be back, I love you" 

I said, half broken. 

A goodbye - 

that had no future! 

Troops of soldiers, 

Like herds of sheep, 

swarmed into the train. 

I looked at the young boy besides me, 

Oblivious and too young, 

To see warm blood. 

The journey felt forever. 

Through mud, 

through lakes, 

through forests, 

we made it to the God's acre. 

The land of annihilation. 

The land of armoury, 

where bullets and grenades, 

were bread and butter. 

I saw humans, 

For, I was uninformed- 

the colour of the blood of foe. 

Trees turned ashes, 

casing our combat armours. 

As we went past abandoned nests, 

in a city of cinders and ruins. 

Repulsing me off the ground, 

the Earth shook. 

The dust stood still, 

smoke travelled slow- 

in the toxic void. 

I bled in black, 

with bullets that girt, 

that aimed for the heart! 

Those prized seconds, 

screened by a broken wall. 

I gathered my wallet. 

To see Lily smile, 

One Last time. 

To kiss Cassandra, 

One Last time! 

I closed my eyes. 

'We held our hands, 

around our small table, 

as we said prayer, 

One Last Time'.

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