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Two bombers and bayonet men at the end of sap occupied by L F Company, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards during the attack on 17th October 1915 on the Western Front in France during World War I. In this attack 5 officers and 110 other ranks were killed and wounded.     Date: 17th October 1915
After we’re gone

 

farmers will level this ground,

backfilling shell-holes and trenches.

 

They’ll pick buttons, tin cups,

boot laces, shaving mugs and razors

 

out of soil that has buried letters,

curses, men and horses.

 

They’ll never know that one of the lads

keeps celandine and meadowsweet

 

in a whiskey glass by his pallet,

another passes the time at the parapet

 

naming the flowers in his mother’s garden;

foxgloves, lupins, heart’s ease, sweet pea.

 

When I try to forget the smell

of fermenting flesh,

 

I see neighbours with pitchforks,

rakes and scythes

 

between hedges scented

by honeysuckle and wild rose.

 

 

© Jane Clarke

Picture 10267158, unattributed photograph, October 1915

 

 

Jane Clarke’s first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015. Originally from a farm in the west of Ireland, Jane now lives with her partner near Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow. One of her poems is shortlisted for the Irish Poem of the Year Award 2016. She won the 2016 Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry and The River was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature 2016 Ondaatje Literary Award. She also won the 2014 Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection Award, the 2014 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, Poems for Patience 2013 and the iYeats (2010). Her poems are widely published, including in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Poetry Ireland Review, New Hibernia Review, Elementum, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine, Acumen, Agenda, Abridged, The North, The Rialto, Ambit, One, Poetry Wales, Mslexia, The Compass Magazine, Southword, Cyphers, The Stinging Fly. She has had poems broadcast on RTE Radio 1’s Sunday Miscellany, Arena and the Poetry Programme. Jane has a background in group analytic psychotherapy and, as well as writing, she facilitates management development in not-for-profit organisations. www.janeclarkepoetry.ie