He pauses here most afternoons,
adjusts the weathered wreaths.
He won’t stay long, just time enough
to count a tithe of names he knows by heart.
Then home to catch the evening news,
one more coffin’s slow parade
from the belly of a transport plane.
He puts the teapot down,
and another day ends in Helmand
as two young men kick the desert
from their boots, stare at a camera lens
and think of home as a village like this.
Outside evening settles in the trees,
the street lights come on one by one.
From James Caruth’s sequence ‘Tithes’ in the Longbarrow Press anthology The Footing. Listen to James Caruth reading this poem on location in Bowcroft Cemetery, Stannington, Sheffield: