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The Little Donkey

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

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