Monday, 22 June 2015

Mr. Sowoniuk

You were only obeying orders
only trying to please your masters -
you weren’t the sharpest chisel in the box
but you executed your duties
with enthusiasm and diligence.
The law’s the law

and rules are rules
and who were you
to disagree?
If a job’s worth doing,
it’s worth doing well.

Now, on this last night,
exploding fireworks
light up the sky
over the edge of the heath,
and the bars on the window
cast faint shadows on the floor,

and down the corridor
the night-shift officer  is in his office
with a coffee and cigarette
to keep himself awake.

Let the film rewind.

You’re  a man in uniform.
British Rail, London Bridge. Tickets please.
Thankyou, madam. Thankyou sir.
Executing duties. Enthusiasm. Diligence.

And all the while
a nagging memory at the back of your mind
that never goes away...

but that was such a long time ago
and you look so different now - heavier, jowlier –
unrecognisable -
and you’ve come such a long way since then.
Tickets please. Thankyou madam. Thankyou sir.

Let the film rewind further.

A different uniform,
Domaczewo, September ‘42
and a clearing in a wood at the edge of town.
The feast of Yom Kippur.
The law’s the law

And rules are rules,
If a job’s worth doing,
It’s worth doing well.

No birds are singing, and the ditch has been dug,
and they’re standing  there, fifteen of them,  naked and  shivering.
They look you in the eye.
You turn your face away.
They curse you.

Your past lies buried with them in the grave.
You were only obeying orders,
only trying to please your masters,
and now, on this last night,
exploding fireworks light up the sky

and the film is rewound.

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