History - EY History
By John Liddell
A wartime poem. Reflections of Nijmegan bridge, Holland after its capture by 82nd US
Airborne Division September 1944 during Operation Market Garden.
Wax dolls strewn willy nilly,
As by a tantrum child.
Across the side walk, over the tarmac,
Dripping off the girders of the bridge
That Hans built.
The carrier zig-zagged avoiding
Blue blind eyes staring heavenward,
Tip-toeing through the grotesque
Climax to an obscene ballet,
With reverent skill.
Immaculately dressed action men,
Newly torn from pristine shrouds
Sprawled undefiled in rigor mortis,
As the Jingle “One finger, One thumb”,
All movement ceased.
Youths who jived to swing-time charts
In Dust-Bowl Southern States, mingled
Their dun-green camouflage tunics
With field-grey Teuton grenadiers,
A frozen diorama of mortality.
The Horseman stilled his plunging steed
The guns fell silent at his command,
Enough to survey his clinical opus
Allowing fresh actors to consider
The hellish nature of the Beast.
The Cosmos seemed to hold its breath,
In disbelief man should be so bereft of wit
To settle his political disputes
With such monstrous prodigality of flesh;
Spirituality wantonly betrayed.
Across the Bridge the carrier crawled,
The only sound the clank of shrieking tracks.
The quick absorbed the conveyor-belt of carnage
Through horror filtered eyes fearful
Lest the Horseman abrogate his truce.
Beyond the final arches Red Caps lay in wait
Directing us to paths by wind-milled dykes.
We harboured by a Kirk of grub and char.
Our tongues loosed again in bawdy squaddie talk.
The sound of spades delving in the Yard ignored.
Extract EYA Journal 2001