Among candles so peaceful and prayers at night Among trophies of war and romantic campfires Children read storybooks, yearning strongly to fight And resenting the smallness of their desires. Children always dislike being less than grownups So we fought black and blue, insults flew far and wide Mothers mended the clothes and engaged in cleanups While we swallowed books, drunk on letters inside. Foreheads sweated with effort, the eyelids would swell Phrases lifted the heart and it soared up high And the odor of battle came off like a spell From the pages whose echo was warriors’ cry Never knowing of war we attempted to learn How the howl is so different from trumpeter’s call How the orders are given and honor is earned How the chariots ram through the infantry wall. In the boiling cauldrons of wars and revolts So much fodder for childish brains of ours So in games we forever and ever resolved To appoint our rivals as cowards and liars. Never letting the trail of the scoundrel turn cold We committed to love and protect ladies fair And imagined ourselves to be heroes so bold Pulling comrades and strangers from depths of despair But escaping to fantasy cannot go on Time for play is so short, so much pain all around Prying open the palms of the warriors gone Take the sword and continue to gain your ground While the sword is still warm, hold it well and secure Test the stuff you are made of as fast you as you can Test the sum of adversity you can endure Taste the meaning of words "taking it like a man" When your friend will be shot and collapse next to you When you howl in sorrow like never before You will feel like the wound has reopened anew Because him and not you will not rise anymore. You will then realize, understand and perceive How a slit in the visor can hide ghastly grin Lies and evil, repulsive and hard to conceive While the vultures are waiting to rip through your skin. If you fought your way through with inherited sword If you cried bitter tears in personal hell If integrity served you the greatest reward Than the books of your childhood guided you well If you never had rations from soldiers’ canteen If you folded your arms and observed from afar Never entered the fray, kept your shoelaces clean Then your life passed you by never leaving a scar
© Rina Gonzalez Gallego. Translation, 2018