soldiers trudging through snow

Time should erase mem­o­ries of a dim past
But some mem­o­ries are too vivid
To suc­cumb to the pas­sage of days.

Too eas­i­ly do I recall
That bit­ter win­ter so long ago

Of bone chill­ing cold
And winds to peel skin from bone.

Of sleep­less nights
Of cold food or none at all
And ter­ror-filled days
Broken only briefly
By bouts of sheer bore­dom
And unfilled menial tasks.

Of shat­tered forests
And bro­ken bod­ies
Lying side-by-side on snow-cov­ered ground
Sprinkled with life-flow red.

Of cas­cad­ing sounds
From the engines of war
That seem to echo for­ev­er
Across both land and time.

I came home
But too many did­n’t
Too bro­ken to lie in hal­lowed plot
Or cov­ered under for­eign soil.

We found so many
Writhing-stopped in grotesque throes
As win­ter wrapped them
In its frozen man­tle
And cov­ered them with white blan­kets
At times leav­ing only a raised hand
Beckoning some­one to find them
And take them home.

No, time can­not erase those mem­o­ries
And they come flood­ing back
With increas­ing fre­quen­cy
As I watch the years slip by
Each one hur­ry­ing more than the last

Perhaps my very last mem­o­ry
Will be of that win­try for­est
So long ago
And the friends I left there
Wondering why it was them, not me.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.