And suddenly there, through the high sash window,
is a rainbow – lit by the westward sun –
from behind the church and over the park’s
leafless, lichened trees to the gated, faith school.
This is the season of illusion and sleight
of hand; the season of the braying bluster
of blinkered donkeys spooked by mayhem
in a cathedral city; the season
of the wet slap of the laundering of money
on the banks of the gun metal Thames;
of clownish mendacity; of useful
idiocy; of media stooges.
Some wars start with an ear, some with a lie.
Some wars are fought for oil, some for dogma.
There is always foolishness, and cruelty.
One hundred years ago, the German army
was readying for Kaiserschlacht, yet one more
battle across the wastelands of the Somme –
yet one more throw of human dice. Meanwhile
the rest of Europe’s Foreign Offices
were watching neutered Russia’s reddening skies.
Fifty years ago today US soldiers
murdered the villagers of My Lai –
five hundred men, women, children, infants.
The three soldiers who had tried to keep them safe
were shunned when the crime was uncovered.
The rainbow has gone. The sun’s beam transforms
a neighbour’s window into a shield of brass.