Alan Dunnett

The Leader Seeks to Retire
from the Civil War series of poems

Then we started fighting among ourselves,
disagreeing about what should be right.
All this while, we had not been getting fat
as the gruel was thin, thinner by far
than the thick, rich soup the sleek burghers smeared
on their soft, plump lips as they slurped it down.

We were losing sight of our intentions
and failing to act together. I thought,
it's time to go. The road is open.
We will leave the rest to argue things out.

We can walk through the night and be long gone
before the sun comes up. Let them argue.

This is a failure. We'll be forgotten,
Marie. No, you say, this is a mistake.
We are not important but things we said
that were given to us to say though
all the words were ours and the way we spoke
the words were ours will not be forgotten.

The children grow up and may be angry
because they do not know what freedom is:
a light which comes and goes in the distance.
Once, I chanced upon it and nearly drowned
in a moment and then.... then it was gone.

Freedom is not licence. Not seeing you
ever again would be hard so I say,
stay. Be strong although you feel weak. Business
needs to be finished. Don't think of failure.

You make me feel as if the only point
lies in staying. I feel weak if I go
but perhaps I am weak if I stay. No,
stay and argue harder and better. Stay.

I'll stay and make leaving a memory.
Let go my wrist, Marie, and trust me now.

Alan Dunnett © 2011