author's note: this links in with two other poems; "Spun Sugar" and "Late", but can stand alone.
Softly through the moonlit clearing;
Bridge destroyed, successful mission;
Team now scattered;
Split apart by close encounter;
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;
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;
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
His troubled past.
Skills acquired in years of hardship
Found a worthy use
At last the noise becomes more distant,
And voices fade.
He doesn't rush, he rises slowly,
Slips through dappled
Light and shade.
Light and shade conceal his actions;
He circles round.
Caution with each step he's taking;
Twigs can snap,
A sudden sound.
A sudden sound...a new disturbance;
Some yards ahead.
Grins; delighted recognition,
Moves to join them...
Stops instead, observes the party;
Danger is not
Stays in shadows, under cover;
Foe still near,
Must not forget.
Must not forget and drop defences
Trusts his ears and eyes and instinct;
In comrades' wake.
In comrades' wake, he walks unnoticed;
Has their backs,
Trio on a narrow pathway;
Searchlights between, he knows the pattern;
Of wire and land.
Count the seconds, beams pass over;
Precisely planned, a curve past pine trees,
By friends, wide-eyed.
All unscathed, relieved, bone weary;
Down the ladder;