Letter to Mother

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Dear Mother,

Tears fall from my face when I think of you. I know you are not well. I wish I could be with you now, holding you in my arms. I wish I could break the wall that separates us: a horrid wall, a wall of blood and wire, a wall of dead men, a wall of serried skulls. War’s wall is thick, unbreakable. I could never get back to you. You must understand.

Here in the trenches, War’s foul stench never retreats. It is a hammering drone, welcoming victims into its cold embrace. It drains our hopes. It drains our desires. Hope and innocence are dead, consumed by War’s iron jaw. They are mysterious ghosts, haunting the living dead. We reach out to grasp them, but we will never reach them. We know they are only fantasies. We no longer belong in sweet memories. The trivialities of our youth have vanished; we are experienced now. Yet we are strangers, foreigners in our own existence, lost in our own sorrow. We are alone.

The Fatherland is no more. We are lost.

I sit here in the trench, waiting to die. If a bullet hits me, so be it. If I live to see another dawn, so be it. Chance decides my fate.

Screams penetrate the darkness. The deformed arms of trees reach out, trying to grasp the dead and the dying. Naked rats scramble over skulls. Is this the product of Mother Earth?

In all of this hell, I think of you, Mother. I think of your potato cakes. And this is all I remember. War has erased the rest.

I want to let you know, Mother, that I will not return. I will not return to you. It is impossible. I cannot come home, a soldier hero, cheered by my kinfolk. For I am not a hero. I cannot marry a woman. For if I cannot become intimate with my own thoughts, how can I bear the intimacy of a woman? I cannot have children. For children are a blessing. And I am not one blessed.

Life is drifting away, Mother, from you and from me. It will be our time soon. I can see it. It is almost over now.
Do not pray for me, Mother. For God is dead. We have killed him. We have shot him down with our rifles, our machine guns. We have struck him with our bayonets, with our knives. We have murdered the Almighty with our hearts, our minds. We have damned him. We have damned ourselves. We were once the Iron Youth, gallantly marching off to war. Now we have been melted.
There is no eternal glory. There is no glory at all, not on earth, not anywhere. This is the forever end.

Paul





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