The Mudlark Army
Next to clay pipes, bones washed from graves, any number of pins, she sometimes finds toy soldiers, little men abandoned when they broke. She forms them up in ranks, those who can stand, the forlorn hope in person. Soak off the thick mud and the maimed leaden figures parade, lacking arms, legs, heads, their colours gone to grey. Who can tell any more what regiment, what war, what nation? They are all one army now, the lost men beyond repair, beyond fight or play,
feeling the wind cool the London clay around them every time the tide leaves.
Sheenagh Pugh lives in Shetland and writes altogether too much about dead people. Her current collection is Afternoons Go Nowhere (Seren 2019).