Centenary

Dartford 11nov18

Silence falls on the sunlit square of turf
outside Dartford’s library. A soldier
with a rifle, all plinth and age-stained bronze,
looks on. Poppy people stand with closed-eye stares.
November colours shuffle in the trees.

The silence is the thing: the unfilled gap
between. I think of dugout silence,
the fire step, the Woodbines whiled away;
the rat-lice trench-foot days that screwed the minds
with silent screaming shells of wasted fear.

I think of letters written to and from;
the scareful hope of waiting for the post;
the silence in the reading of the words.

I think of silence in the unlived years;
the stories that cannot be forgotten
because they did not happen. I feel cold.

I walk back up the hill to where young George
is playing Sunday morning football. There is
no silence here. Teams of boyish men
criss-cross open fields, fighting foot-to-foot,
attacking and defending, launching volleys,
and firing shots on goal. Then, as a cloud
bursts, an arch of rain-refracted light
crowns the shouts of peace and freedom.

2 thoughts on “Centenary

  1. Note to self. I revised the ending to make more of the parallel between soldiers and footballers. I also want to record that I watched the remembrance ahead of the Palace/Spurs match in the Blythe. The pub was loud and crowded. The sound of the telly was turned off. Amid the noise, and the absent absence of silence/sound, I remembered.

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    1. Also, this is a 24 line sonnet! My definition here being that a sonnet is a poem that takes a sharp turn toward the end. Here I have 16 lines of ‘preamble’ and then resolution in the last 8 lines. So there.

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