The Deserter, by David Chorlton

A lost soldier stops at a well
and listens to a stone
falling through the long shadow
to its dry bottom. The crackling
of rifle fire continues in the distance
but he cannot tell who is shooting
or who is dying. He takes the star
from his uniform and throws it

away into the trees
where it continues flying
in circles with its silver edges shining.
When he unbuckles his belt
it slithers off into the undergrowth,
and the passbook he pulls
from his pocket

takes off from his hand.
He lays down his gun and it disassembles itself.
He loosens his coat
and an owl flies out of its lining.
When the soldier lies down to sleep
nothing can wake him,
neither deer
nor the fox that licks the salt
from his brow

where dreams open their colored wings
around the fire in his brain.

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