Saltwater sloshes at my puttee-clad boots
as I sway beside my brother, the lieutenant.
His son, nearby, is propped on an elbow,
smoking in a crowded bunk at the sally port.
We are establishing a beachhead at Gallipoli
in the face of fierce Turkish gunfire at V Beach.
Spray from the surf douses the River Clyde
as I admire my brother, my commanding officer.
His stiff upper lip reminds us we are ready to die
as the first boats away already drift lifeless, and full.
I lurch across the hold toward my nephew,
intending to impart final encouraging words.
I am conscious of my sodden woolen trousers,
the color of winter’s heather, chafing my thighs,
as bloodied brine rains from beams overhead
and drums upon the steel of my helmet.
How strange to think so well of my brother
for schooling our own flesh and blood in slaughter.