by Michael McCaughan

Hold this Iron Cross, a Great War relic,
Won by a soldier and pinned to his tunic.
His medal for valour, award of renown,
Silver and black, Kaiser’s W and crown.

Holding this Cross your fingers touch history,
On the reverse a palimpsest of mystery.
Scratched-out writing with passion, on silver,
Two letters clear and a date to remember.
‘WH’ — the Kaiser’s initials perhaps?
‘27 10 18’ portends German military collapse.
Bad news, no hope, no victory boast,
Today General Ludendorff resigned from his post.

Two weeks later the Kaiser was gone, the Armistice signed,
Millions were dead and the world realigned.