author's note: this links in with two other poems; "Spun Sugar" and "Late", but can stand alone.


Softly through the moonlit clearing;

Rapid footsteps,

Pounding heart.

Bridge destroyed, successful mission;

Team now scattered;

Split apart.


Split apart by close encounter;

Guard patrol

On lonely track.

Now he's got their full attention,

Hopes the others

Made it back.


Made it back to base, and safety,

While he leads

The troops astray.

Hopes that he'll avoid their clutches;

If he fails...

He'll have to pay.


He'll have to pay, for those who matter.

Not a noble


Simple, heartfelt understanding,

Knows his mates

Are worth the price.


Are worth the price, beyond all counting;

Mouth quirks up

At such a thought.

Shakes his head, continues running;

Better if

He isn't caught.


He isn't caught, he reaches cover,

Leaves curl round;

In soft embrace.

Gunfire rips through tangled branches;

Head ducks down,

He stays in place.


He stays in place, he stills all movement;

Listens, watches,

Slows each breath.

There's quite a knack to cat and mouse games;

Hide and seek and

Life or death.


Life or death; the daily choices

Now and...then;

His troubled past.

Skills acquired in years of hardship

Found a worthy use

At last.


At last the noise becomes more distant,

Shots recede,

And voices fade.

He doesn't rush, he rises slowly,

Slips through dappled

Light and shade.


Light and shade conceal his actions;

Bearings gained,

He circles round.

Caution with each step he's taking;

Twigs can snap,

A sudden sound.


A sudden sound...a new disturbance;

Whispered words

Some yards ahead.

Grins; delighted recognition,

Moves to join them...

Stops instead.


Stops instead, observes the party;

Danger is not

Over yet.

Stays in shadows, under cover;

Foe still near,

Must not forget.


Must not forget and drop defences


Big mistake.

Trusts his ears and eyes and instinct;

Follows on

In comrades' wake.


In comrades' wake, he walks unnoticed;

Has their backs,

Unheard, unseen.

Trio on a narrow pathway;

Camp ahead,

Searchlights between.


Searchlights between, he knows the pattern;

Every sweep

Of wire and land.

Count the seconds, beams pass over;

Every step

Precisely planned.


Precisely planned, a curve past pine trees,


By friends, wide-eyed.

All unscathed, relieved, bone weary;

Down the ladder;

Safe inside.