The Attack at Dawn

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‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’
They told us in the early afternoon.
We sit and wait the coming of the sun
We sit in groups, — grey groups that watch the moon.
We stretch our legs and murmur half in sleep
And touch the tips of bayonets and yarn.
Our hands are cold. They strangely grope and creep,
Tugging at ends of straps. We wait the dawn!
Some men come stumbling past in single file.
And scrape the trench’s side and scatter sand.
They trip and curse and go. Perhaps we smile.
We wait the dawn! … The dawn is close at hand!
A gentle rustling runs along the line.
‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’
A hundred eyes are staring for the sign.
It’s coming! Look! … Our God’s own laughing sun!

© Leon Gellert