We spend New Year’s Eve in your dirty flat,
washing down greasy pizza with cans of Foster’s
in silence. Impatient children light firecrackers
outside, and I try to make love to you out of habit.
You want to play computer games instead.
I venture to the bathroom to throw up.
You’re still at the desk at eleven fifty-eight,
fighting Nazis in northern France, rescuing
comrades from the trenches and hurling
hand grenades at advancing Germans. I hug you,
count down the seconds into your ear,
kiss you softly. Happy New Year, darling.
I collapse to the floor through fireworks
blood streams out of my nose; my eye
swells shut in an instant. Happy New Year,
you whisper with a smile, and kick
my barely healed ribs with heavy boots.
Then you return to the front line.
From Fire No 26 (2006)