Background information can be found here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Band_of_The
Band of Thebes
The packed clay cracks beneath our feet, the sun sprawls
Across our necks and the beating of the march continues.
We are wearing the toughened skin of others
As our own. It does not fit perfectly; it catches the wind.
They call us sacred, when pinioned to each other in the tight
Orbit of shared gravity. We do not understand this word –
Our feet collect more dust than theirs do. We do not have
Our own beds, our own language.
The beating has become our religion – we forget our poems
And our recipes with every thud of our hardened feet.
There are no words left, or
Ever invented to spell the weight of our swords. We speak to the
Shoulders, to the spine, to the soles of the man before us. We do
Not move our necks. They have told us before that we are the
Eaters of hearts. But, no – we only want them to stay
Silent, to give them back.
Salt from the sea and our brothers lies thick
Upon us, breaking in flakes through the march. The men behind us
Dream of snow. Lovers will fight more fiercely to protect each other, they said.
We did not hear this discussion – we were collected like fallen
Tomatoes, gathered before we became too soft.
We do not consider fear or family. Neither exist.
We are our own, and the own of every pair of feet
Beside us. These feet hold us in their pounding, with every step
They wrap us more tightly, binding our wrists.
But the sound of feet has become quieter.
The air around our heads is tangled in thick clumps,
difficult to breathe around. With every mile, there are less.
The body beside us, thin, weightless as the edge of a blade.
Our hands, quickly, jabbing into the empty space.
We are walking alone.