Bernadette Hall


The History of Europe

It’s heavy with lupin perfume, the rough
track. There’s a shine on the claggy clay,
a double tyre track down the middle.

The pine forest looms like a collapsing
building. You half expect to see
two lost children, a slavering wolf,

an old woman gathering sticks in her apron.
Nothing moves. This is untrue.
Nothing appears to move but, in fact,

the purpley brown toadstools do
but imperceptibly, levering their little
round gun turrets up through the needles.

This is what happens.

Two men step out, silent in the silence,
one from each side of the dark that wells
in the dark of the pines. They stand

there braced like a locked gate.
Each one has a rifle across his chest
like a sash. It’s the history of Europe.

Soon there will be dogs barking,
boots crashing through the matagouri.
Soon there will be shots and the rackety

clatter of a helicopter. Soon there will be
barked commands, bayonets and baying for blood,
someone in terror, trying to make a run for it.


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Author’s Note


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