Pictorial blethers

By blethers


In a change from the tumultuous weather at the end of the week, today was gentle: still mild, hazy sun, no wind to speak of. Perhaps because of this, for the first time in all the Remembrance services I've attended at Holy Trinity over the years, the congregation followed the wreath out of the church to the only war grave in our graveyard. The golden leaves on the tall trees which I photographed last week had all gone, blown over the grounds in a metaphor suitable for all we were remembering.

This is a poem I wrote in Delville Wood, the battlefield on the Somme which I mentioned yesterday. It came into my head during the silence this morning.

The trees are still. The morning light
flickers through unfurled leaves
of palest green, and glances on
the random stones, each one a tale
of heroism in this wood.
The inner ear hears voices then
- the howls and oaths and sobs of pain –
and flinches from the screams of shells
which shattered trees and soil and men
when Hell’s gates opened on this place.
Now dead leaves mask the pitted soil
of crater holes among the trees
where trenches snake, grass-masked and still,
with bluebells on the parapet.
I think of sweet youth lying there
with shredded limbs and broken smiles
and as I pause, a church bell sounds
as if to give a pious hope.
But here is sacred, where I stand –
 it needs no choirs, no altar-rail
but only memory, and love
and silent prayers for lives unlived
and birdsong in an empty wood.

C.M.M. 05/09

Extra photo is of a magnificently gnarled tree after sunset at Toward this afternoon.

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