death march from scurelle to sicily, 1918

an exercise in historical writing.  this is about my great-uncle rusty, and his very difficult journey in world war I.


it is high summer now, two months gone,
and even with a bullet hole
in my ten year old leg,
i am still walking.
my brother joseph, he carried me
until we could find a crutch –
i was not very heavy, for without food
i had become like ghost-bones.
my mama, she walked behind us;
i know if we were to fall,
she would carry us both.
i think of my papa
as he left on the boat to america;
i see him waving at us, and his shaded eyes,
and us waving back.
how could we know that his was the last boat out?
once again i ask my mama
what we have done wrong,
once again she can’t answer me,
can’t tell me why our own countrymen wish us dead.
i look at these men who keep us going
with their hot and sweaty guns,
and i think of vittorio
who stopped yesterday afternoon
and was shot in the head;
his price for a few seconds of rest.
every other step i take is a little death,
but joseph, he keeps walking,
and my mama, she keeps walking,
and i can hear my papa
calling me good son, good son,
so proud of me
because i kept walking.

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