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Fire: A Sestina For Survivors

November 9, 2015

Poignant and true, Malcolm

Malcolm Guite

He waits in silence for his heart to break He waits in silence for his heart to break

In this strange interlude between Remembrance Sunday on the 8th of November, and Remembrance Day itself on the 11th, I thought I would repost this sestina called ‘Fire’ which is about the trauma, the post traumatic stress, which so many soldiers have brought back with them from the theatre of war and have to deal with in civilian life.

There was a former soldier, now a homeless man, who used to come sometimes into the back of our church in Cambridge. Dressed in camouflage and carrying an imaginary rifle he would squat behind the pews, take aim at the pulpit, or edge his way round the side of the church, clearly frightened and looking for cover. We knew he was reliving things we could scarcely imagine and we did our best to calm him and make him feel welcome (as well…

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