Still Doing his Bit


Wootton Bassett war memorial

Still Doing his Bit

Every card and plastic flower
rain-soaked soft toy,
he collects with aching fingers
broken heart ;
this old soldier
marching now on battery power
fills the shopping basket
on his red, mobility scooter
and lurches, wide circle, for home
turning his back on the bare
Wootton War memorial.

He straightens painful creases
wipes, dabs, winds scarlet ribbon, gathers
petals, photos, paper poppies,
dries each heartfelt gift, preserving
strangers’ tributes
to another fallen soldier. Bags
tags and glues every tribute
into unwieldy, weighty volume,
heavy archive boxes. No message lost,
no tear missed, no prayer unheard.

Wearily he sinks into body moulded armchair,
thinks, remembers  times
he’d thought long past, lessons
he’d thought learned in
Normandy’s blood soaked fields.
Knobbled fingers brush
painful rhythm on worn
twill trousers. Tearful, he slips
into dreams too terrible to tell,
of other young men, a brother,
cousin, friend. Why was
their loss not lesson enough?

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About SallyJ

I am a writer and a poet.
This entry was posted in death, funeral, poet, poetry, Uncategorized, war, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Still Doing his Bit

  1. Claire says:

    It seems that the lesson will never be learnt and the crying goes and the loss of lives continues. This poem is strong in its message.

  2. Claire says:

    It seems that the lesson will never be learnt, the crying goes on and the loss of lives continues. This poem is strong in its message.

  3. SallyJ says:

    Thank you Claire…was there any of it you thought clunky or awkward?

  4. Claire says:

    I think there is a lot of unsaid emotion in the first verse and I thought I would be able to pare down the next two verses but I have read and re-read to no avail. The poem is powerful and with each reading the words intensify the feeling. I do like these words.
    Come and take a look at thecubypoet blog when you have a min.

    • SallyJ says:

      Hi Claire,
      Thank you for spending time with the poem. I appreciate the support. I have looked at your blog – love the poem Maz. I looked for a follow button but could not see one…I’d like to hear about your poems as you post them

  5. jaytale says:

    Sally – I remember this gentleman so well – the whole tv programme brought tears to my eyes. I think you have captured it well and it says so much about lessons not learnt.

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