War Artist 2: Battlefield at Ypres
after Paul Nash
Stretcher-bearers carry a wounded soldier
through a landscape of burnt tree stumps.
Autumn dawn beams a torch
on broken tracks, on pot-holed paths.
A driver stands knee-deep in mud
to crank his reluctant ambulance.
A weary figure bends
to irrigate a hopeless wound.
Daylight smears across livid sky.
Sleepers huddle against a fiendish wind,
wake to weigh their chances,
ache to survive another wretched day.
© Helen May Williams 2016
Written for and performed at Schubertiade 2014
Helen May Williams is a poet and author, living in West Wales. She has written extensively on twentieth-century poetry and formerly taught at the University of Warwick, where she was a founder member of the Warwick Writing Programme Advisory Board. She runs the Poetry Society’s Carmarthen-based Stanza group and is an active member of Penfro Poets. She recently completed a translation of Michel Onfray’s Before Silence (Avant le Silence), a volume of 21st century haiku. Her poems have appeared in numerous poetry journals and anthologies. Her poetry book, The Princess of Vix, is published by Three Drops Press.