Tuesday Poem

Barbed Wire

Consists of two tight-twisted, separate strands
Conjoined as one: and not unlike, in fact,
Our own familiar silver wedding bands,
Though these are loosely woven, inexact,
With wide interstices, so that each makes
A circle of ellipses. Tightly caught
At random intervals, two little snakes
Of wire are crimped into a snaggled knot,

That four short ends, sharp bevel-cut, present
Unsheathed, ingenious fangs. And when in place,
Stretched taut, or strewn in loose coils, may prevent
The passage through some designated space

Of beast, or man. You got used to the stench;
The mud was worse than being under fire,
My father said. A detail left the trench
At night, to get the dead back from the wire,

And no one volunteered. They stood, to view
Our brief exchange of rings and vows, for both
Our fathers had survived that war: and knew
Of death, and bright entanglement, and troth.

by Richard Outram
from University of Toronto Libraries