Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Home-coming
By Ralph Cheever Dunning
  SCENE: A room in a house half demolished by shell-fire on a deserted battlefield. Indistinct figure of an old woman. Enter another figure, like a young soldier, through a half-open door.

  Old Woman.  Is that you, Charles?
  Young Soldier.  Yes, Granny—where are you?
  Old Woman.  I am here in the corner, Charles. How did you escape from the battle?
  Young Soldier.  I do not know; but here I am, as you can see.
  Old Woman.  I do not see you very plainly, Charles.        5
  Young Soldier.  I cannot see you at all, Granny.
  Old Woman.  I tell you I am here in the corner.
  Young Soldier.  Very well, Granny; I begin to see you now.
  Old Woman.  Please close the door behind you. I would not have it open for a minute with all those strange noises about.
  Young Soldier.  I cannot close the door, Granny. It must have been jammed by the explosion.        10
  Old Woman.  But it has been swinging in the wind.
  Young Soldier.  Yes, but I cannot close it. Where are all the others?
  Old Woman.  They went away in a big cart.
  Young Soldier.  Is Margaret safe?
  Old Woman.  She went away in the cart.        15
  Young Soldier.  Why did not you go?
  Old Woman.  I am too old to leave the house where I was born. I hid myself, and your father said they could not waste time looking for me.
  Young Soldier.  How long before the firing began did they leave?
  Old Woman.  About an hour, I think.
  Young Soldier.  Then they must all be killed.        20
  Old Woman.  Yes, perhaps.
  Young Soldier.  They might have hidden in the hills.
  Old Woman.  They did not have time. War is terrible for poor people, Charles.
  Young Soldier.  It is, indeed. If you could see the things I have seen! Our field and the old barn are all torn, and the bridge over the brook is blown up.
  Old Woman.  It is very terrible to think of.        25
  Young Soldier.  Granny!
  Old Woman.  Yes, Charles.
  Young Soldier.  If I tell you something you must not be frightened.
  Old Woman.  I will try not to be.
  Young Soldier.  I am only a ghost, Granny. I am lying dead out there with my eyes open. I could not close them any more than I could close the door.        30
  Old Woman.  Now I can tell you, Charles: I am only a ghost, too; my body is lying in the cellar.
  Young Soldier.  You were killed when the shell blew the house to pieces?
  Old Woman.  Yes, Charles.
  Young Soldier.  What shall we do now, Granny?
  Old Woman.  We can do nothing but linger now. Perhaps when the war is over we shall die completely.        35

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