It’s been a long time since I last wrote something for here. I was stirred yesterday morning by the conversations around whether the installation at the Tower of London should be retained longer. The artist had always seen it as a temporary installation which represented the transience of human life. I visited it some weeks ago and even then was overwhelmed by its tragedy and beauty. I for one believe it should be dismantled on the 12th as that act itself reminds us of the grief of families who had their loved ones wrenched from them. My own poetic response tries to say something about that.
you stand attended
a watching crowd jostle to view the sight that stuns
your trench a dry blooded moat
not the sodden wastelands
that clung to your legs
the wretched earth which wrapped
its reeking arms around you as you fell
when death dulled your senses
even to the bullet’s burn
you stand photographed
but other pictures told your story then;
no red black white
your muddied boots protruding from the blanket
a woollen camouflage before the earthen grave.
you stand admired
and people mither that they have not been
to see you stand so silent
as names read over you speak of families incomplete
young men fallen not forgotten but not seen again.
So do not complain that you have not seen a ceramic flower
but instead remember that each one a soldier,
was never seen again by the women and men
who bid them farewell days weeks and months before.
you stand fallen and remembered