A poem about forgetting and then remembering: ne obliviscaris
I didn't wear a poppy on the 11th of November 2010,
And I wasn't silent when the guns fell silent on
the Western front -
I was too busy talking about how the rain
was creating rivers outside on the street
and the wind was running through the town
I live beside the sea,
And the storm whipped the water into a fury
of charging white horses and mines
exploding as the waves ran aground outside my bedroom.
The sea across to France was treacherous
on the 11th of November 2010.
My mother is named Jacqueline
after her uncle Jackie
who saw the sea as I saw the sea
on the 11th of November 2010 -
furious charges and exploding mines.
He battled his way through France,
through furious charges and exploding mines to Dunkirk,
where his ship to safety lay miles off the coast.
He knew he couldn't swim,
but he could fight -
And so he sank,
Fighting the enemy swirling in his ears, nose, eyes
More abhorrent than the Nazis standing in the beachy dunes watching.
Fighting to not be pulled by strong currents to the sand under the waves,
where no poppy could grow, nor army medic would go.
A lost soul in the tumbling waves that, half a century and more later, I see
crashing sea spray into my face.
Perhaps, finally, he made his way back from the war,
Long after the ships had gone and the war had been won.
His mother knew she would never see him again,
But I see his face as the spectrum of colours when the sun shines
through the watery air -
A rainbow as a poppy
as an individual face,
as a whole chapel of faces framed in glass coffins, forever.
I speak of the hall in my school,
Laden with pictures of past students
taken by the war (of which number well over 600)
their pictures taken in their military clothes;
Proud, Smart, Black and White faces to show their mothers and
Every remembrance ceremony there left me
bleary eyed as their blissfully unaware faces looked down upon us.
I would often look around, trying to hide my red eyes,
And see the captain of the rugby team doing the same,
and the bully and the strictests of teachers -
All avoiding the faces of the dead,
And embarrassed by the glances of the living;
a proud poppy and a proud memory is all that is left
of a generation's consciousness.