In honour of Remembrance Day, I thought I’d share a poem I wrote over 30-years ago.
Strange, I thought, lying still in the
Half light of the pre-dawn hours,
That a solitary rose should stick up
Through the thick layered mud.
A reminder perhaps that this place once existed,
Was possibly even cultivated.
Or is the rose wild, a survivor
Amongst the desolation of lost causes?
I scratch at unseen ticks in the tangled mass
That once was my swept-back brylcreemed mane.
A rat, thick set and bloated leaves the trench
Self satisfied; a winner among so many losers.
I turn to ease the pressure on my legs,
The sores weeping as wives and loved ones must weep.
The solitary rose loses a single pearl of dew,
A mute statement of nature’s sorrow.
The silence is deafening, broken only
By the scurrying of little black undertakers,
Carrying off our comrades bite by bite.
A decent burial is a thing of the past.
Perhaps someone will try when all this over,
But that too will have to be piecemeal
And forests will be needed for simple crosses.
The solitary rose is the only hope in the wilderness.
A sneeze startles the darkness a few feet away.
But fear and ignorance prevents the blessing being dispatched.
“God Bless You’ does not cross enemy lines.
When all others have forsaken you and
Dawn breaks, I shall see the whites
Of your eyes and one of us will die.
The solitary rose waves in the early morning breeze.
A neutral shadow like a distant flag of surrender.