Some here cry when the donkey comes,
clopping on the seal, rangy hills at his back.
Each year he does this; by day he is Seamus,
at bugle’s call, he is Simpson’s steed,
to remember the man, the deeds.
He is led by boys in khaki, over-size
trousers buckling at the ankle, and
he has a red cross about his neck:
red for salvation, for the blood spilled.
When last they stood here, a boy fell
in the heat and the donkey’s eyes lit and his
head went up, and people rushed to
the boy’s aid: they opened his shirt,
gave him water, rubbed his pale cheek;
succour in the field in a heat shimmer.
And that was it – the boy who led the
donkey had fallen at his post, and
no one – no one – wanted to look