I haven't posted anything for a while because time has been so short, what with the field and my course work. Kay has gone off to Bulgaria to meet the child that she is hoping to adopt from an orphanage in Plovdiv, so I have additional child-care and driving this week.
The Cyprus National Guard operates Soviet-built Hind Helicopters (the main gunship that the Russians used in Afghanistan) from a base just down the road. One crashed recently, just beside the motorway into town, killing the Cypriot pilot and Russian instructor, but there are still eleven in the country -- at least one still at Paphos Airport. They overfly me regularly, often as low as 150 metres, and even though I know that they are benign -- to me, at least -- they make me feel very vulnerable.
I wrote the following poem -- or, I should say, it wrote itself -- in about ten minutes while drinking my coffee after just having been overflown by a Hind. I had been meaning to write something about it, but it never occurred to me that a poem would come out! The style of popular verse owes a huge debt to Australian poet Banjo Paterson -- creator of Waltzing Matilda and The Man From Snowy River, and , of course, to Rudyard Kipling.
When I’m working in my field
And a ‘Hind’ flies overhead
I don’t have to run for cover;
I don’t have to think ‘I’m dead!’
For the pilots they are our guys –
That’s their base, just down the road.
And the gunners don’t have rockets
That they’re itching to unload.
But in some benighted countries
When a gunship clatters by
Then the farmer in the field
Wonders if he’s going to die.
For he well knows how a rocket
Can destroy a home and hearth
And he’s sometimes buried children
Who were caught up in its path.
When the gunship clatters over,
Terror makes the eyes flare wide,
For there’s no safe place to run to,
There is nowhere left to hide.
The roar of close explosions,
And the acrid tang of smoke,
The crash of falling masonry,
The cries of injured folk.
Makes him hunker ever closer
To the cold, unyielding ground
While his eardrums ache to bursting
And the shrapnel whistles round.
I’ve never had a helicopter
Hunting me or mine
And years have passed since last I heard
A rocket’s screeching whine.
But I still feel pinned and helpless
When a ‘Hind’ roars overhead,
‘Til it wheels and soars off gracefully
Above the peaceful Med.