The Gunners move like figures in a dance
Harmoniously at their machine that kills
Quite casually beyond the overshadowed hills
Under the blue and echoing air of France.
The passing driver watches them askance:
'Look at the beggars - pickled to the gills.'
Yet bodies steadied in parade-ground skills
Correct the tottering mind's intemperance.
Housed under summer leafage at his ease,
Artillery board set up, the captain sees
His rule connect two dots a league apart
And throws destruction at hypotheses,
Wishing that love had ministers like these
To strike its distant enemy to the heart.
M.K. Joseph, Normandy, 1944.
Reproduced here with kind permission of his family.