Through many a battle and half the world Behind my unit I trudged and crawled. Then home they brought me, all sick and mauled, In a special train of the medical corps. In a truck they delivered me to the door Of my house, right on the threshold. I stared and was dumbstruck by what I saw: The smoke from the chimney seemed special. The windows were bent on avoiding my eye, And the lady inside didnít greet me as kin, Didnít throw herself on my breast with a cry, Just threw up her hands and hurried back in. And the dogs started baying and tugging the chain As I passed through the foyerís tight squeeze, And I stumbled on something that wasnít even mine, Felt the door, and went weak in the knees. There sat at the table, where I used to sit, The new man of the house, looking darkly. And by him was a woman and why - that was it - Thatís why the dogs were barking. Man alive, I thought, while I was pulling my weight Under fire, denied all mercy and wisdom, He moved things around my house in his way, And changed them around as it pleased him. While we prayed to God before every attack That his covering fire might not fail... But this deadlier blow was struck from the back, And it stuck in the heart like betrayal. I doubled up, peasant-like, with a low bow, I summoned all my wilt and I whispered: Well, excuse my mistake, Iíll be going now, Itís the wrong house, friends, it must be. What I meant was: May you have peace and love In your house, and bread in the oven... As for him, well, he didnít even look up, As though what had happened was normal. The floorboards swayed as though bereft, But I didnít slam the door as I did once - Only the windows opened as soon as I left, And gave me a guilty look from a distance.
© de Cate + Navrozov. Translation, 1995