They sit like shrubs among the cans and desert thistles
in the tree's broken shade and the sea-glare:
strange violent men, with dirty unfamiliar muscles,
sweating down the brown breast, wanting girls and beer.
The branches shake down sand along a crawling air,
		and drinks are miles towards the sun
		and Molly and Polly and Pam are gone.

Waiting for my announcement, I feel neat and shy,
foreign before their curious helplessness,
innocence bought by action, like the sea's amnesty:
all my clean cleverness is tiny, is a loss;
and it is useless to be friendly and precise
thin as a hornet in a dome
		against the cries of death and home.

How can they be so tolerant - they who have lost
	the kiss of tolerance - and patient to endure
calm unnecessity?  They have walked horror's coast,
loosened the flesh in flame, slept with naked war:
while I come taut and scatheless with a virgin air,
		diffident as a looking-glass,
		with the fat lexicon of peace.

The strangeness holds them: a new planet's uniform,
	grasped like the frilly pin-ups in their tent
- something without the urgency of hate and harm,
something forgotten.
		But that is not what I meant:
I should have been the miles that made them innocent,
	and something natural as the sun
	from the beginning to everyone
	though Harry and Larry and Len are gone.
			Coastal Battery, Tripolitania