Owen Sheers
Liable to Floods
'Liable to floods' the farmer warned them.
And on the map, the letters arcing down the valley
in black and white
but still the major wouldn't listen

tipping back his cap with one finger
and laying a fatherly hand on the farmer's shoulder
'Don't you worry Jack,' he said,
We've got this one covered.'

And so they made their camp,
a thousand tents across the valley floor,
but even then as the GIs tapped the steel
they felt the backbone of the rock , shallow beneath the soil.

For the next two days they trained
under Moel Siabod's shoulder.
Greenhorns from Kansas, Ohio and Iowa,
sweeping in a line

through the ditches, streams and bracken,
preparing for the landings on Utah and Omaha
pegged as yet to an unknown date
hung somewhere just over the horizon.

On the third night they slept to the sound
of the rain's fusillade and the artillary of thunder,
while outside, under the cover of darkness
the river pulled herself up and spread her wings,
bleeding through the camp like ink from a broken cartridge.
The guards were woken by their tin cans and cups
set afloat and clinking against each other
like ghosts in celebration.

They raised the alarm but it was already too late
and the river, arming herself with their rifles,
flushing out the latrines, swallowing the jeeps,
gathered them all and ushered them off.

And as their camp beds became rafts,
gently lifted and spun, more than one GI
woke from dreams of home to sense,
just for a second, somewhere deep in the bone,

how suitable this was,
as if the weather had finally caught up with their lives -
this being taken at night without any say,
this being borne, this being swept away.