My grandparents on both sides lived through WWII and they were sucked into the chaos of the conflict. The country I live in still bears the pockmarks left by bombing raids and when you drive into the nearby city of Swansea, two air-raid guns stand as testament to the terror of that time. It’s easy for us to make romantic notions and there is no doubting the bravery that all those who lived through that time must have been blessed with. My poem is for my grandfathers who stood on battlefields and faced men just as human as they were in the hope that they could secure freedom. A lifetime, seventy years has gone by and most of those men now only exist in pictures and memories. However, these two men in particular live on in my heart.
Of The Past
The heaviness of that silent morn before the tide of change did flow,
He stood unbowed against the might, expectant of that final blow.
Pictures and letters stowed away, he crossed his heart and prayed for all,
His heart pounding beneath his muddied flesh, his thoughts on brothers who took the fall.
Blade attached to unyielding steel, would God forgive the blood he’d spilled?
Would the fight for peace be a utopian dream, would his future ever remain unfulfilled?
One man, one heart, one body a quiver, that cloud of terror looming overhead,
So human, so fragile no different from the others, those on both sides wept, laughed and bled.
A silent morning when peace was won and lost, bought by countless lives and souls,
The howling din of battle, of pain and death, of some who’s courage remains untold.
One sky above that saw it all, one sky that cried a thousand tears,
For each boy buried beneath the mud, for each life taken over those long years.
Never forget was their only plea, never again set metal against soft flesh,
Rejoice in the freedom others sacrificed, all so a heart could be itself,
A legacy laden with prayer and poppies yet no matter how long that scar remains,
He fastens his medal upon his chest and remembers those fallen in the parade.
One life, one heart, he stands beside a man once wearing the enemies’ colours,
Together they stand, no guns in sight, only respect for the sufferings of another,
Two men, once in conflict, now side by side, one sky above, one ground below.
Two human bodies, aged and worn, born to reap what others had sown.
One silent minute, that past returns, that gunfire and chaos erupt from the mind,
No matter how long, those battles live on, how could they ease with the passing of time?
His heart thumps inside for those brothers in arms, as the world carries on its busy day,
But one heart, one mind, one fragile flesh will never forget what price was paid.