Mikhalios, they said, you’re now a soldier.
Strutting, delighted, he set out with Vasilis
and Maris but he couldn’t march, or shoulder
arms, or manage the simplest thing. ‘Master-
corporal,’ he was always murmuring, ‘Sir,
please let me go back to my village.’
A year later, in hospital, he would stare
mutely through the window at the skies,
affixing a meek and nostalgic gaze
on some point beyond the horizon,
as if to find there somebody to implore,
‘Please, Sir, just let me go home.’
But Mikhalios died a soldier still.
His pallbearers were a handful of pals –
Maris, Vasilis, a few nameless others.
Above him they shovelled in the dirt,
though one bare foot they left sticking out –
poor boy, he was always a bit tall.