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There And Back Again

In my mind I could recall
All those friends faces
Almost hear voices as
I sat in old loved places
A callow youth when I arrived,
A misfit out of time and place,
Trying but not quite succeeding
To put  a confident face.

A uniform that barely fitted
My long skinny frame
Supposedly a trained soldier
But really only in name.
I couldn't ever imagine, though
In theory I had acquired the skill,
To threaten another human being
And, If necessary  shoot and kill.

But there was a whole new world
Just beyond the camp gate
There  to be searched and learned
And I could hardly wait.
And so I found the village
At the end of a wooded road
And so began for me
A significant episode.

It seemed to welcome me
With not quite open arms
But, like my own home village
A place full of rustic charms.
For almost three years that village
Helped me mature  and grow
Taught me so many things
A man really needed know.

I discovered sex and love
I discovered how to care
Had a life within my life
In the hours I spent there.
Posted so suddenly i didn't
Have chance to say goodbye
But I kept it neatly filed away
Nestled there in my mind's eye

Nearly fifty years later
I found my way back
Wandered there down
A well remembered track
At a time of loss and grief
A time of hopeless despair
And, almost unchanged
My village was still there.

I wandered old paths sad that
My friends had all long gone
But in that quiet peaceful place
I found the strength to move on.
Conventional wisdom advises
We shouldn't revisit the past
But I'm glad i made that visit
Though I think it will be my last

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