Two Deaths

By Elizabeth Jennings

It was only a film,
Perhaps I shall say later
Forgetting the story, left only
With bright images- the blazing dawn
Over the European ravaged plain,
And a white unsaddled horse, the only calm
Living creature. Will only such pictures remain?

Or shall I see
The shot boy, running running
Clutching the white sheet on the washing line,
Looking at his own blood like a child
Who never saw blood before, and feels defiled,
A boy dying without dignity
Yet brave still, trying to stop himself from falling
And screaming- his white girl waiting just out of calling?

I am ashamed not to have seen anyone dead
Anyone I know, I mean;
Odd that yesterday also
I saw a broken cat stretched on a path
Not quite finished. Its gentle head
Showed one eye staring, mutely beseeching
Death, it seemed. All day
I have thought of death, of violence and death,
Of the blazing Polish light, of the cat’s eye:
I am ashamed I have never seen anyone die