dawn parade

dawn service

In memory of my maternal grandfather for ANZAC day. He would not take part in any ANZAC dawn parade or other such ceremony, or even step foot in an RSA club. From what my mother told me, it seemed he refused to take part in any of these activities that might have a hint of mutual back-slapping or lead on to drunken revellry, since they had their origin in something that was so unspeakably awful for him. There was no glory, as he saw it, for anyone.

granddad
i went
because
you wouldn’t
never did as long
as i knew you
you would have said
they got the setting
right at least
a new moon
on the east in a
clearing sky
it had rained a
last night’s sorrow
bagpipe weeping
on the hill and
the morning star
like a fruit
of clustered
shining petal
about to fall
you would have
bristled when they
had us sing
‘god save the queen’
how far prayer and
mercies fell short
of what you saw
what you heard
in the rotten
rotting
mud
of
Passchendale
you would have
winced at the young
men here with rifles
held proud
in young hands
yet i saw
something else
the coming together
in one familiar place
to witness the light
of dawn
good enough
reason to be here
a drum beat as
much ritual as
we ever needed
in this land
shorn bare
of such
the old
men women
marching out
shoulder to shoulder
were any of us
whether standing
in full flight
or laid already on
sheets waiting to
be changed
ready to march
out as men
as women
whither
the dawn
of death
shall
take
us.

morning, 25 april 2014
stockade hill, howick

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