Private Michael III by Andrew Scott

             

Part One – Born / Raised

I was born April 8, 1898.
Two years before the turn of the century
in a small town on the east coast
of the great nation of Canada,
this little town called Sussex
would have an impact on my entire life.

My parents are Mina and Scott Michael II.
My mother is a stay at home mom,
raising three of us with a stern smile
and as much motherly love as she knew.
We were given meals and chores.
That is how our mother is.

My father is the silent one.
He wakes before all of us
to work the farmer’s fields.
He never has a lot to say.
The expression on his face
and actions with a belt
are all we need.

Our parents are one in my eyes.
When words are spoken by our mother,
father supports every word.
As I got older, this was tested
when I felt the need.

I was told I was a hyper baby.
That I never did grow out of it.
My mouth would always
get the very best of me.
My two older sisters
with my parents knew when I was in the room.

Now, as I am older
it is not that way.

 

Part Two – Youth

My father expected me
to work the fields with him.
Assisting in planting
and picking of crops.

It did not take long
for my father to know
that this life was not for me
after I almost tore a barn down
with misguided tractors.

Going back to school
was not for me,
could never focus
on the materials in the books.
Got worse in my tens years.

My mother would kick me out
during the day
so I was not under her feet.

Finding other work was hard.
A lot of family businesses
that only hired relatives..

With nothing to do
but wonder around the town,
suspicious eyes were always looking,
blame for wrongdoing]would be sent my way.

My destiny to change their minds
was just next door.

 

Part Three – Sussex Military Camp

On the outside of town
there was a military camp
where the militia was trained.

I saw this as my way out.
Join the group of men
that was shown so much respect
when they came into town.
Drinks and meals given freely.
The apples of single lady’s eyes.

People’s perception of me would change,
all I had to do was sign up.

When the papers were signed,
found out I was going away
not to the neighbouring camp.

The day I left
my mother would not stop crying.
My father never said a word,
only shook my hand.
That was all that needed to be said.

             

Part Four – Steps Of Hell

I was sent to a place called Valcartier.
Afraid as I had never been
out of my own town,
let alone province.

There were thousands of us
from all over our country.
Every single one of us
had a worried, frightened look.

We were all given our green fatigues
after our heads were shaved.
Gear with guns handed out.
I had never held a gun before,
do not believe I was the only one.

Our shelter was tents
placed in the middle of a field.
This is where I was for weeks of training.
Cold, hot, wet or dry,
it did not matter.

So many got sick
from the training.
The running for miles,
carrying the heavy packs,
broke more than one man.

I had never experienced
anything like this.
The rations of food
took all the extra weight away.
That and always getting sick
from the drills in the elements.

Graduation day was a welcome day.
The survivors of boot camp
were too exhausted to celebrate.

I was given my next orders.
Was going to France,
to the battlefield.

 

Part Five – The Trenches

Once I landed in France
I joined the 4th Canadian Division.
It was January 1917,
and so cold.

I barely had time to bunk
before orders were given.
Was part of a group of soldiers
that would be invading trenches
of the enemy in the middle of the night.

The soldiers that were there before
were excited to beat the record
for enemy captures or death
of the previous team.

The raids were fast and swift.
Thinking about what I was
doing was out the window.
Instinct was how I functioned.

Soldiers from both sides were taken,
some nights more than others.
When it happened
more replacements were brought in.

One night in March
we used gas for the first time.
I lost my bearings in the chaos,
shot at and tortured a few.
No idea if they were
friendly or enemy.
Then it all went black.

 

Part Six – Woke Up

I woke up
not knowing where I was.
The pain was immense
all through my body,
head was pounding
then I realized
my lower right arm was missing.

The scream brought
nurses to hold me down.
After somewhat calming down
realized I was in an army hospital.

There were rows upon rows
of patients just like me.
Soldiers
awake with pain,
blood staining their beds.
Sleep was hard with the crying
and the thought of never
waking up like some others.

Old patient were shipped home
only to be replaced with more.
It was never-ending.

I was finally able to take
what was left of my body
home in May.

I had never wanted
to go home so bad.

             

Part Seven – Home

A hero’s welcome is what I landed too.
A few neighbours and family
crowded the house.

There were pats on the back
or hugs from everyone.
A few awkward looks
from people who did not know
about the missing arm.

My mother would not
stop doting on me.
Happy for me to be home.
My siblings were so kind,
first time for everything.
My father did not say a word
but you could see the pride.

Over time the special attention
from the townspeople went away.
There was sympathy
anytime I was in town
or stares at my missing piece.

Finding work was hard.
Having one arm
made it difficult in a farming town.
Half the issue was me
and I knew that.
Each day it got worse.

 

Part Eight – Now

Been home now
for a little over two years.
Little has changed in that time.

My father built a small
add-on to the house.
Believe it was to
give me a little privacy
and a small piece of independence.

My mother put food for me
on the step of my little room.
I thought so I did not
have to see her tears
when she saw
what I was becoming.

Turning into a shadow
compared t hat
I was before.
The images of death
were ingrained
and always playing in my head.

I do not have the energy
to fight back right now.
Feel that more than my missing arm
My body is living
but can barely feel that.
The mind is scattered.
I know that part of me is gone.
Never to come back.

August 16, 2020
© Andrew Scott – Just A Maritime Boy 2020

 

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Andrew Scott is a native of Fredericton, NB. During his time as an active poet, Andrew Scott has taken the time to speak in front of a classrooms, judge poetry competitions as well as be published worldwide in such publications as The Art of Being Human, Battered Shadows and The Broken Ones. His books, Snake With A Flower, The Phoenix Has Risen, The Path, The Storm Is Coming and Through My Eyes  are available now.  Searching is his fifth poetry collection.

 

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