Farmers in the fields, housewives behind steamed windows,
Watch the burning aircraft across the blue sky float,
As if a firefly and a spider fought,
Far above the trees, between the washing hung out.
They wait with interest for the evening news.
But already, in a brambled ditch, suddenly smashed
Stems twitch. In the stubble a pheasant
Is craning every way in astonishment.
That hare that hops up, quizzical, hesitant,
Flattens ears and tears madly away and the wren warns.
Some, who saw fall, smoke beckons. They jostle above,
They peer down a sunbeam as if they expected there
A snake in the gloom of the brambles or a rare flower,—
See the grave of dead leaves heave suddenly, hear
It was a man fell out of the air alive,
Hear now his groans and senses groping. They rip
The slum of weeds, leaves, barbed coils; they raise
A body that as the breeze touches it glows,
Branding their hands on his bones. Now that he has
No spine against heaped sheaves they prop him up,
Arrange his limbs in order, open his eyes,
Then stand helpless as ghosts: in a scene
Melting in the August noon, the burned man
Bulks closer greater flesh and blood than their own,
As suddenly the heart’s beat shakes the body and the eye
Opens wide childishly. Sympathies
Fasten to the blood like flies. Here’s no heart’s more
Open or large than a fist clenched, and in there
Holding close complacency its most dear
Unscratchable diamond. The tears of their eyes
Too tender to let break, start to the lip
Of such horror close as mourners can,
Greedy to share all that is undergone,
Grimace, gasp, gesture of death. Till they look down
On the handkerchief at which his eye stares up.