The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jan 26, 2010

Cigarette Break

The skirmish was suddenly over.
We stopped to roll a smoke
and the Germans did too and
so there we stood,
insane, across from each other -
barely on our feet still.
'Cigarette break,' someone said hoarsely.
The German nodden understandingly: '
Ja, Pause. Sofort!'
We sat down, them and us, in the grass
five paces away from each other;
we laid our rifles at our feet
and plucked
tobacco from our bags.
Yes, the things one sees in war!
Pass it along, not a soul in hell
will believe you. Then calmly, silently
- cautiously looking each other in the eye -
we ground out the final roll-ups, they their cigarettes,
and the same voice rasped, raw and bloodshot:
'End of cigarette break!'
Yuri Belash, veteran of WW II, Moscow.

(From Geert Mak, In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century, Vintage Books, 2007)


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