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Bomber Base

by Hyam Plutzik

The machines are quiet before the day's struggle.
Geometric lines subtend the air at random.
In the half-dark, propeller, wing and fin
Loom out of space. A searchlight lifts a far
Pillar of white and a flare falls slowly,
In isolation, so calm, so secretly.

There are many messages coursing the earth
In this wartime night: of command, terror, despair;
In guttural syllables, in soft, by lights in the sky.
And none so beautiful as the white flare sinking
On a distant field, in East Anglia the ancient.

And space is full of the mutter of engines passing
Over the clouds, like a great organ playing.

Now the thatched farmhouse sleeps in the dark
Among wakeful men, moving swift to their task.
The runways stretch silent; somewhere in the blackness
The guards stand, unseen, longing for home,
And a woman's arms, a warm bed in a house.
Upon the fields the stone weapons of dead men
Lie awaiting the outcome, which they will survive.
And the bomb-trucks move down the deserted perimeter
Where the cold North Sea wind stifles all.

Listen: the King's airmen are at large tonight.
But this is no story. Already the enemy
Touches them with his instruments. His guns poise.
Already fragments of metal puff out in the sky.
The bombs shatter the factory and many are blasted.
The broken machine crashes into the hill.
The young men die in manifold agonies.

© by the Estate of Hyam Plutzik. All rights reserved.




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