In a Hall on Remembrance Day

“…dead men, who I have not met nor shared a swing with…”

In a Hall on Remembrance Day

In a hall on Remembrance Day,
I cannot remember the cut of my brother’s jaw,
Nor the lines that webbed my father’s face.
They have fled into photos, faux-yellow
Snapshots, airbrushed in smiles.
I can visit them, and for a second their faces
Will shine in my mind, a great gleaming brand.
But I leave, and somewhere along the road,
Bad cartoons and cider wet their portraits,
So all the ink runs out.

In a scrapyard, the bones of a climbing frame lie,
Heavy with rust and the laughter of children,
Who climbed higher until they stood taller.
And then it fell, a spidery Tower of Babel.
The shapes it made foretold the end of all things.
Eventually. I cannot tell anymore
If the slide was red or black.

So I am given a paper poppy, and told
To remember a great host of dead men,
Who I have not met nor shared a swing with.
I stand in silence and admire the skill of the bugler,
While those who can care for the gunned down stranger
Mourn in dark and tasteful suits.
We all file out together.

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