Suspicion Falls On The Seat Of The Hamza

by Peter Wyton

The key defied their lock-picking attempts,
Therefore, as befitting action men,
They took a hammer to the bedroom door,
Trampled over splinters, feared the worst,
Found themselves guilty of underestimation.
His transistor radio, still spewing
News broadcasts from the Arabic service
Of the B.B.C., they silenced. Gagging,
The Duty Officer phoned the C.O.,
The Adjutant, Medics, Redcaps and the Padre.
Our Mess Manager drew back the curtains,
Highlighting hideousness in sunlight.
Dragging their eyes from the bed, they observed
That every single inch of the walls
Was festooned with photo-copies of aide-memoire.
Detailed revision hints on the Dual,
Notes about Abstract Nouns of Quality,
Conjugations of weak and hollow verbs,
Painstakingly produced summaries of
Inseparable Adverbial Particles.
His writing desk supported a dense mass
Of coursework material, grammar books,
Topped off with a half-finished treatise on
‘Military and Political Gains
And Losses in the Middle East since World War Two’.
A no-go area for linguistics
Was confined to his narrow windowsill.
Wife and kids photographed smiling outside
A Married Quarter, his Iron Man trophies,
His Regimental Endurance Skiing award.
Testimonies to a professional
Soldier, who had never hesitated
To carry the fight to his enemies
In any theatre of war, yet found
Himself outmanoeuvred by a foreign language.
Our senior instructor, ashen-faced
Following the requisite ordeal
Of a formal identification,
Favoured the class with his opinion that
The Seat of the Hamza had got him in the end.
That enigmatic orthographic sign,
Bane of all students down the centuries,
Was bullet-pointed by the highest spurt
Of blood, three feet above the pillow, in
An explanatory paragraph commencing,
‘Where alif hamza is followed by another
alif hamza, an alif is inserted between the two hamzas,
But some do not do this.’
More poetry from Peter Wyton in The Flea