A forest near Toulouse
The mist of mountains brings in tears of rain
Where charcoal burners sought to set up home.
The forest floor is thick with fern again
Their labours lost, their bodies buried bone.
Strong men cut trees to feed the furnance mound
The smaller boughs formed shelters where they slept.
As darkness fell their families gathered round
So far from homes in Florence, women wept.
Young men reap death on fields they did not know
In Ypes, Verdun the slaughtered sons of France
The migrants had no choice of where to go,
But played their part where love then stood no chance
In silent tribute to the dead we stand
Where ghosts are working still this unclaimed land.
Note -Inspired by discovering a site on holiday in 2010 – where charcoal burners from Italy had lived with their wives and children in make shift tents during the Great War. One of the women described her life as a ‘sea of tears’.
Written at Lumb Bank – Arvon with the encouragement of Ian Duhig – my one and only sonnet to date,