Poem Hunter
Step Up
(9th March 1948 / Gateshead, County Durham)

Step Up

Poem By Brian Routh

I was lying on my back thinking about this and that when suddenly a voice told me to move.
I listened and held my thoughts still and held my breath.
Again I heard the voice directing me to move.
Directing me to push up with my hands.
My arms moved freely.
I felt a faint breeze brush against my face carrying with it a sweet fragrance.
I thought of the sea.
A faint whisper directed me to push and step up.
Push and step up.
Step up, out into the awaiting world, the ominous sky.
I thought of my mother.
I thought of my father.
A small light played in my eyes.
A heartbeat resounded in my skull.
A faint whisper, a faint laugh, someone crying.
My face was wet.
Push up, step up.
Push up, step up.
A soldier waiting on the edge of the battle.
The final battle.
From in the depths of my soul came a shriek.
A piercing scream.
A flood of energy surged through my bones.
I was hurtling through space.
My arms pushed out in front of me.
My legs seeming to walk.
I stepped up and out through a door.
Out of the soil.
I paused.
Standing still, quite numb, in a state of shock.
My left arm lifted its wrist towards me.
A watch ticking.
The second hand moving.
The minute hand moving.
The hour hand moving.
I turned and faced a door.
I walked and stepped through.
I put the kettle on.
I stepped into an oblong box.
I switched on a light and stood quite still.
The walls were covered with small holes where the light poured through.
I stepped out and filled the teapot.
I poured a little milk and added a little sugar.
I poured the tea.
I lifted the axe high above my head and let it fall
Again and again.
The china flying in tiny pieces.
The teapot flying in tiny pieces.
The sugar and milk everywhere.

I was hurtling through space
Screaming and screaming and screaming.
A suitcase hit me,
Its contents one Coldstream guards peaked cap,
One baton…………….
'Left-right! Left-right! '
'Smarten up lad! '
'Get those stomachs in! '
'Shoulders back! '
'You there! '
'Stick that bayonet into your foot! '
'Shoot that man next to you! '
'Fire! Fire! '
They lined up their guns and fired.
I hit the ground and I knew I was dying.
I looked at my watch.
The hour hand moved.
The light faded.
The cold began to get to me.
I knew I was dying.
All the faces looked down at me.
All the hands lifted me and carried me
And lowered me down into the soil.
I saw the door closing down on me.
I saw the light fade out.
I felt the ice and the insects
And I knew I was dead.

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