Helen Noble Thomas, Steep, England; 2 November 1918
– ending with the last line from Edward Thomas’s “There’s Nothing Like the Sun”
The clouds, turning colors, pass overhead.
Cheek to blanket, I thought I could
hear if I listened hard enough, the dead’s
strung-wired crackle talking the distances. What they said
is no clearer than the wind in the woods
around me. The clouds turning colors overhead
dragging their shadows across the hills have bled
the hills of color. It’s like the time you and I stood
at field’s edge and heard through the nearly dead
summer air, up through our feet, the tread
of many machines and men moving and viewed
their dust cloud pass overhead
making a haze of the day. It made me dread
what we’d come to while hoping for good.
Such fine noise, I suppose, is only the grey dead-
weight of the year percolating through the beds
of the animals, or the blood
passing inside my turned and cloudy head.
There’s nothing like the sun, Edward, till we are dead.
– first published in Poem (UK)