News Weekly, May 2, 2020
NIGHT FLIGHT – REMEMBERING ANZAC DAY
Lord, I’m not yet twenty,
My brother only twenty-three;
if one of us must die tonight
let it not be he!
Yet there the crescent moon
rising gold above the land
cradles the ghost of another;
one reborn, one dying
in the arms of a brother,
a sign of things to be …?
He led me by the hand
once when lost and small. I understand
the call for sons, while grieving mothers
listen to our planes climb high,
and fathers pace – and loving others;
my girl who kissed me, smiling still.
I promised to come back.
Some day I will.
But not tonight. The woods below
are where my pup and I grew up. We owe
that old dog, whining in his sleep
our childhood days. Three pairs of eyes
on silver moving in the stream …
What does he dream?
Do owls still keep
the twilight watch below?
I see our fields are white with snow …
but dark shadows now streak by.
Keep them both safe, Lord!
Let them go free!
If one must go, take me.
ANZAC DAY – IN THE TRENCHES
Perhaps in the end
they didn’t mind dying so much;
but wouldn’t you, just twenty-two
hearing the message the close guns send?
You, worn out, sleeping only fitfully,
a trench bed of muddy clay and water,
soaked to the skin, propped up on sandbags –
pyjamas, man? You’ve worn the same clothes
for weeks, filthy, smelling, depressed
by dysentery, a fortnight’s rain on and off
and on…thinking before dawn of home …
longing– in this surrealistic world
of dirt and damp and hunger, the horror
of good mates hanging over barbed wire
a head joined only to a helmet …
– to see them all once more, and say
the things you wished you’d said before!
You say them now, or scribble them down,
think their world might yet be saved
if enough tough men, like you are trying
hard to be, lie awake at night
and think of them, and fight, and kill
others trapped like you – to keep them free.
You wanted once so much to live!
But now you say – For them – what’s meant to be …
for them and for theirs – things undone – forgive?
I fought for things enduring. Oh, remember me!