Soldier Boy

Now he is seventy-five and works
At the smallest museum in the world.
After hours he sits in the corner
Of the bar by a dusty 25 Watt light
And tells stories. One is about
When the American troops marched
Into the French village where he lived
During the Second World War.
When the soldiers realized
They had an American kid who spoke French
They lifted him up, called him Soldier Boy
And told him that his services
Were crucial to the war effort.
The first question was
“Where is the nearest bar?”

He tells the same stories for hours
Over two or three Budweiser, never more
And he bends down chuckling to himself
Each time he has told a story particularly well
Even if no one laughs.
His head is small and round
Hid under a red cap with the name
Of some battleship
And it’s not hard to imagine him
In Normandy in the nineteen-forties.
You only have to squint at him,
Like you would at an eclipse, and he,
As all men up in years,
Will turn into the child he was
A lifetime ago.

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