Monday, April 4, 2011

An Unwanted Gift: IEDs

Ex-British Special Forces soldier Theodore Knell wrote a poem too late to be included in his memoir "From the Corners of a Wounded Mind" (see my review of this compelling memoir). It is such a moving poem that I wanted to include it here with this introduction from Knell:

Corporal Liam Tasker was an arms and explosives sniffer dog handler working in Afghanistan. He and his dog, a Springer Spaniel named Theo, held the record for detecting the greatest number of IEDs on a single tour.

Liam was shot dead during a fire fight and Theo died of a seizure some two hours later -- some would say of a broken heart.

An Unwanted Gift

His little body shakes in anticipation
so eager to please
running along the narrow streets
searching every crevice
hoping to find his prize
personally I hope he doesn’t

he’s got something
“Good boy”,
you think so?
Now it’s my turn
but I’m not so eager.
Let’s hope it’s on its own,
but knowing my luck,
it’ll be what some sick bastard named a daisy chain

Buried at the foot of a wall
perfectly placed to channel the blast along the narrow street,
catching as many as they can,
but they’re too late
the boys have gone to ground
well back,
and like Meerkats,
with eyes wide
and heads on a swivel,
they now scour the area
protecting me like some precious jewel

Laying here alone
with my sweat soaking into the sand
I empty my mind of everything,
my wife and son
everything, except for the job in hand,
gently I clear away the earth
picking at it, like a child with a meal it doesn’t want
slowly exposing the deadly gift that’s been left for us
lifting each wire in turn
looking for those tell tale signs
the ones that will tell me it’s not alone

please God, keep my hands steady

I’ve only got a week to go

(c) 2011 Theodore Knell

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