On Anodynes

WE who must live on substitutes for life,
The powdered egg, the dehydrated spud,
The processed V-mail from an anxious wife,
We who must be prepared to trade our blood
For someone else’s plasma neatly bottled,
Or learn the art of love with plastic limbs,
Cannot disguise the months that have been throttled
By counting Japs or singing victory hymns.
When we come back, without our serial numbers,
Racked with a fever which no drug can hide,
We shall not find protection for our slumbers
In atabrine or sulfanilamide.
The loving hand, the soft, uncensored kiss,
Will be our balsam and our armistice.

New Guinea, 1945