On Remembrance Day

 

 

You were young men in the Guards

treading water in wretched trenches

swinging kitbags and rifles and broad silly grins

 

so young

that two billion volumes single-spaced wouldn’t be enough

to list all of life’s treasures

you haven’t experienced yet

and still you would die

right then

right there

doing right

or so you thought

as you lay where

no-one could tell where

mud ended and blood began

 

three and four generations removed,

we lay wreathes for your wraiths

on a hollow day in November

while the parades and the poppies

hallucinate

an annual landscape of memory

 

profound today, gone tomorrow

 

and for three or four days the flowers fade

and the greenery browns at your memorials

and then the work crews come

 

young men and women with guarded futures

treading water at minimum wage

swinging brooms and shovels and black plastic bags

 

and when the work trucks leave

your memory has turned once again

to cold undecorated stone

and nothing can ever change

the fact

that you died before you started living.

 

 

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