I know Jess' story well, yet was brought to tears when reading it expressed through this moving poem, written by Alex Bell.
Shade it Black
Across the gunfire beneath a truck, flashes light up my collection.
The explosion has done its job,
Oh God how it has done its job!
I must do mine.
How dare they say we are trained, there is no training to prepare you for this...
Same boots, same belt,
It could be me, it could be me.
I wish it was me.
His pain is over, mine has just begun.
Feeling inept I lay there motionless, what do I do?
I do nothing, nothing.
A nearby shell shocks me!
I start clawing out at the burnt meat, grabbing all I can see....all I can smell,
quickly, quickly, get this over with,
No fear, pure anger.
Body bag partly full I drag myself out.
The Unit greet the old me, not realising she doesn’t exist;
SHE was left behind in the cold shadow of the truck.
They congratulate me on a successful mission
“Got there before the enemy”, “Job well done”
I ignore the high five............
The light falls upon the open bag.
They are also quiet.
A half finished jigsaw
the Marine lays on the table,
We stare at the spaces the bomb has left behind.
I shade these in black on the paperwork.
The inventory begins.
His pockets still full of life,
‘Rules of engagement’ neatly folded,
Scrunched up trash that didn’t become litter,
A picture of smiles from his high school football team,
A half full bottle of Blue Star ointment and
from his bloodied breast pocket slips a sonogram of a foetus.
The silence is now louder.
Alex Bell 10th October 2011