Photo by John Williams (2009)






























The Road to Anjarak

On the road to Anjarak
I met a bombardier,
already dead.
He was shouldering an amputated arm
as if bringing home
a freshly-baked baguette.

Go back, he said.
There’s nothing for you there.
The shops are closed and shuttered.

But we soldiered on
me and the boy without a name.

Further down the rutted track
we met three women
dressed in black.
They were stirring something
bubbling in an oil-drum.

Turn around, they said.
You’ll catch your death
in these mountains
when the sun goes down.

Yet on we plodded
by the shiny new acrylic fleece
we carried
in our rucksack.

On and on
in swirling sand
and baking heat.
On either side
the granite towers
closing in.

When we got to Anjarak
it was empty.
Only the glowing embers
of a dying camp-fire
and the clotted smell
of roasted mutton.