The 888,246

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. 

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The 888,246

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

 

The 888,246

you stand photographed

 

but other pictures told your story then;

no red black white

mostly grey

your muddied boots protruding from the blanket

a woollen camouflage before the earthen grave.

 

The 888,246

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.

 

The 888,246

you stand fallen and remembered