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THE P LAC E o F The B~age I(ing THE SKU L L There in New Guinea, by the grounded metal And the birds' free flight, Under their cries, far under: Under them at the level ofthe ocean We came from the rusted freighter With a thousand bags, duffel, Kit-bags, B-4'S, A-3'S, Barracks bags, handbags, Kits, "personal bags," musette bags, Parachutes, kith and kin, And were.left, there, The recruits, The never-failing replacements As the ship drew out in darkness to the sea. There the trucks came, Or were supposed to come Out ofcombat, Moaning like the wounded, Like the enemy and friend Oflife, to take us to the tents Where the boys who came a week earlier Lay in a cold sweat, Or their ghosts lay, sweating In a small tepid fog from the ground. This was done, but I could not find My bag, my flying gear, my books, The Baggage King I 3 And so would not leave The mountain ofbaggage. When the last truck deserted, groaning Through the great, beseiging mud, I saw the mound ofbaggage Begin to sink through the clay Like the hill ofa dead king Beleaguered by mosquitoes and flies Losing their way in the dark. Not knowing what this thing was That at last I climbed aboard, clambering over The musette bags which crunched Like eggs, the long case Where the guitar was straining its breast, Up the long, crumbling slope ofbaggage I sat in trashy triumph at the top, Knowing my own equipment, my own link With the past was buried beneath me, or lost, And not caring, not at all, But only knowing that I was there, Drenched in sweat, my shirt open down to my balls, Nineteen years old, commanding the beach Where life and death had striven, but safe At the top ofthe heap, in the dark Where no lights came through From the water, and nothing yet struck. Patience: In theMill Through a place in the roofthe sun came down Where in a hall oflight Mike Cole sat up, His menial harness broken on his arms. It shed a circle upon him, As ifhe certainly were blessed, to be filling the cockpit with blood Blushed eagerly from his face, And laid on the sunburst ofdials with glowing hands. Summons / 4 ...


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