Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Across the Volga"

Yahshua Matheny
September 14, 2017

Across the Volga

With the summer’s birds
My mother sung gently
Her face wrinkled by years of starving time
Softly weathered as her home
I kiss her goodbye
A single tear she cries
Her leathered skin in folds
To my back, I had marched from home

The engine starts, our steamboat roars
Across the Volga’s fiery hell
Fearsome, fighting, raging boar
Our Soviet might can withstand these shells!
The wailing sirens of a Stuka
Shrieks and screams from the far-off shore
Our brave lieutenant sings Katyusha
When he falls in a pile of gore
The beauty of the sky hides itself from us
Wretched, writhing, us pitiful sods
I see a man kneeling, with tears in his eyes
Deluding himself to be heard by God

Long ago, I saw bright faces towered by banners
The commissar stood, knowing no shame
“We are to fight against the ruthless fascists
And thus shall die in our motherland’s name”
The men were spirited, rowdy, unkempt
Rifles in hand, aloof to the world
They showed me their hats, fastened tight their boots
Before they marched, flags flying unfurled

Now the door opens, the ramp is lowered
But it is not land that we embark upon
The ground is slick and wet with blood
The sacrifices of comrades now forever gone

We rush forward, my company shouting
“The enemy retreats, the day has been saved!”
It is the sweet chalice of victory
That I taste before the grave

A hail of bullets
Worse than any storm
Plows through my fellows
Myself with only slight harm

Quickly, I am dragged
My blood mixing with the dead
That poignant smell in war
Steely, cold, and of lead
I am moved to the rear
Injured like many others
But the faces I see here
Are not the ones of summer

The cold nights grow ever longer
While the sweet days recede into memory
A new dawn has been shaped for us
The hurried fire of Stalin’s artillery
We are not the first, nay the second
Not the third and nor the fourth
The waves of Russia’s young patriots
Will keep pouring from the north

A poem authored by Yahshua Matheny

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