Four years ago, for the 100 year anniversary of the start of the First World War, I wrote this post. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote that and how fast those years have flown by!
Two years ago, to remember the Battle of the Somme, I composed the following short poem for my Great Uncle Joe, who did not get to return home to his family.
One day I will visit you, Great Uncle Joe,
and I will say hello to your name.
I know the pillar it is engraved upon and
one day I will go, Great Uncle Joe, and say hello to your name.
When I discovered that Granddad had lost a brother through my genealogical research, I was surprised, because Dad had never mentioned anything about this, but his knowledge was not great. And, of course, he wasn’t here for me to share my discovery with him.
I also wished that Granddad hadn’t died when I was a young child; I would have liked to have talked about his experiences with him. What did it feel like to lose a loved one in horrific circumstances and not have a body to bury? I will never know, but I am always curious.
So, we come to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. A period of time that has resonated with me for many years and along with elements of World War Two, like the Shoah (or Holocaust), form the cornerstone subject matter for my poetry. I can’t explain why I am drawn to these periods of history and why I love the poems of WW1, but you know what, I am not going to try to explain it, it feels right and that is good enough for me. I continue to jot down many lines and ideas for poems and often create complete poems in one go. They may not get looked at again for a while and when I revisit them, I do change and edit them, but some I don’t.
To Our Brother
We had to leave you behind.
Your body, you see, we couldn’t find.
But, we tried.
You were never forgotten.
Remembered you every day.
We wanted to bury you,
stand over your grave, and pray.
But we didn’t.
All that’s left is your name,
carved upon a wall.
Pier and face 2A.
That is all.