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Poppyless

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A poem about forgetting and then remembering: ne obliviscaris

 

I didn't wear a poppy on the 11th of November 2010,
I forgot,
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
at 70mph.
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,
Went down,
Collapsed,
Fighting the enemy swirling in his ears, nose, eyes
And mouth,
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
country.

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.

 

    15 comments

  1. dashpoet
    dashpoetSupporter said:

    I love the depth of feeling in the narrative. The way you tie time together in the spray from the sea is impressive. I taste the salt of ages.
    Mark

    2 years ago
  2. JohnnyRoger
    JohnnyRoger said:

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Wonderful. Wow.

    2 years ago
  3. alexestombar
    alexestombar said:

    Thank you both! Its a bit of an epic, thanks for persevering!

    2 years ago
  4. Tell Your Own Story..Oldbirdee

    Love this, it’s a story and I like its length. :)

    2 years ago
  5. Writer no longer with us said:

    An amazing poem, just wonderful.

    2 years ago
  6. John Tognolini
    John TognoliniSupporter said:

    Your choice of words are very descriptive and flow through your tight narrative. It’s ironic writing this on ANZAC Day here in Australia. Remembrance Day is not thought off out here as it is in the UK, Europe and Canada. It is more a day of commemoration than celebration. Australia and New Zealand are the only two nations that commemorate the major defeat of Gallipoli each year.

    2 years ago
  7. DonQuixote
    DonQuixote said:

    Your writing leaves me fulfilled, yet tinged with a soupçon of jealousy. And I don’t mind admitting that.
    Wonderful.

    2 years ago
  8. Nicole Horlings

    Wow… *sits in silence*

    2 years ago
  9. Suzywordmuse
    Suzywordmuse said:

    A very stunning poem! I can agree with everything you have written here, and it is written with such care and beauty, and total professionalism! :D

    2 years ago
  10. Roland Petrov
    Roland PetrovSupporter said:

    A very fine poem, no doubt about it, but poems like this always leave me wondering why it had to come to this and who really achieved what. The poppy is an emotive symbol, but couldn’t they all have just stayed home and grown poppies? Or today maybe yellow roses?

    2 years ago
  11. MrsD
    MrsDSupporter said:

    Agree with all of the above, great poem.

    2 years ago
  12. Shrewd Banana

    Incredibly moving. I love this poem.

    2 years ago
  13. Tell Your Own Story..Oldbirdee

    I have been glued to the bbc serialisation of ‘Parades End’ for the last three weeks (missd the first episode!) so this poem has a deep resonance today. :)

    2 years ago
  14. -
    - said:

    So glad this popped again or I would have missed it. An excellent piece, though it brought mixed emotions. For political reasons I never wear a poppy; I find it an insult that the proceeds of their sale, charity in other words is necessary to help support Veterans and or their dependants. Not the sort of of treatment I would expect from a grateful nation. That being said, I still contribute but never take the poppy.
    All in all a very good and touching poem..
    Terry

    2 years ago
  15. Writer no longer with us said:

    Great to see this again, today especially, such a moving poem, deep and thoughtful :)

    2 years ago
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