190 To my son
You say you want to be a soldier. My father said he was
A soldier once. And added: 'Stalingradů No rocks... I climbed the mounts
Of corpses. Crossing over. Reaching up. Till shrapnel put me down.'
He was your age -- just seventeen -- at the ridges of that war,
Its canyons, every rock with eyes, east to west, with every step.
I say he was like you -- alive -- when with the dead, he climbed the mounts --
Light just like you -- thin-boned, high-templed -- soldier not, not meant to last,
To linger -- with the same deep-opened eyes overflowing face.
He climbed the mounts of corpses, pressing with soles, no, not the soil --
The souls of soldiers, trapped in scrambled mass, mess -- metal, flesh, bones, blood
And smoke -- the souls exploding out of tortured bodies -- each man like
A torch. He climbed the mounts of corpses -- lined up, foe clashed with foe --
Not wrestling anymore, but resting, like lovers, in embrace,
With legs and arms entwined, and not embarrassed if one's head lies at
Another's groin. He climbed the mounts of corpses, stepping on necks, chests,
Not just on toes, but on brown eyes like yours, blue like mine, on hands.
He pressed his soles on cheeks, on foreheads. He smashed lips, ears. He crushed
The mutilated faces even more, like those who press red wine
With feet. He climbed the mounts of corpses -- not just deafened, blind, but drunk,
Not soles -- eyes soaked with blood, as if his heart pumped out of him his blood,
Till shrapnel hurled him down to blend him with shredded bones, squashed eyes.