Tank Tracks

Tank Tracks

Flinty chalk path
Hard under foot
Hard under my feet
My painful feet
Follow it South to the brow of the wheat field
Shimmering in the surprisingly chilly breeze
On this cosmically hot day
A day so hot it feels portentous
Why have you never bothered to come here before?
You’re too late to see the Churchill tank
I know you’ve taken this path
Past the leaving path-blockers
(a theory you’re developing)
And down into the history of military training exercises
But you’re too late
What do you mean?
Look I’m on top of it?
It’s here it says so on the map
And here too on my smart phone.
Churchill tank
So you look for further directions
Scrolling down on the downs
You find an article in the West Sussex County Times
Explaining how this treasured landmark
Becoming increasingly overgrown
Disappearing back into the landscape
Rusting into the ground
Providing a direct route to the real people
Who sacrificed everything
Who gave it all
Has been transported to France
The Norfolk family estate explain their reasons
You read on the screen up on the downs
The tank is going to be restored
And placed in an Imperial War museum in France
Your eyes alight on the picture of the red rusting hulk
You hold it up to the landscape
Snuggled into the wheat field on your phone screen
a skeletal abandoned piece of farm machinery
Looks like a litigation waiting to happen
I mean children and hikers might well
Well you know
But any way you’re too late any how
It’s gone to be restored
So that moment when it all clicks
And you know that the land you are treading on
With your painful feet
Is the very same path
That led to undoubted tragedy
Will have to come from inside you
But it’s not in there and it never was
Because it’s out there - that feeling
So let the visitors enjoy the placard
Explaining how before them is a newly restored Churchill tank
Which had once stood abandoned on the Sussex Downs.


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