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A Summer Walk

by John Kent

Trudging on a shell-scarred road,
columns of two,
through swirls of dust
in the early twilight hour;
quilted rice paddies on either side,
reaching out to brooding mountains.
The hot summer wind
blowing the scented incense
of feeding rice shoots through
our nostrils...we gag!

We've come upon this place,
in this valley of rice,
where the dead lie red and withered,
scattered about like autumn leaves
blowing in the wind.
Poked by hunched shapes
wailing like the lost souls
of a netherworld...echoes in my brain.
The leaves carried away,
one by one.

The sky in reddening hue,
bringing the night down slowly.
Our bodies baked by the hot sweat
of a summer day.
The leaves turning rancid.
The aroma of shellburst and decay,
pungent in the air.
We walk quietly, with reluctant step,
suppressed conscience,
to another front,
another place...like this one.

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