A poem for the tear that trickled down Sydney Smith’s face when he remembered his best friend, Archie Geddes, killed in WWII; for Uncle Jack Smith who brought home a British war bride; for Uncle Bruce Doyle who served with the Canadian navy in the North Atlantic; for my brother, Graham Peever, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War; and for all those who know the hurt and hope of war.
Those are the people I know, but Remembrance Day is about more than I know. It is about every man or woman who served, every loss, and every lesson learned. I cannot know every soldier, every conflict or every horror, but my poppy does; it represents all of it. The tiny red flower is heavy with the weight of all it knows. I wear it in hopes that it won’t have to get any heavier.
My Poppy Laden
© 2011 Arlene Somerton Smith
Tho’ whisper-light, the flower over my heart weighs heavy,
laden with its symbolism.
My poppy laden with shell blasts and shivering bodies,
mouldy boots in sucking mud,
wars created by a greedy, power-hungry, vengeful few and
fought by the brave, patriotic, rights-driven many.
Tho’ gently plush, the flower over my heart bears unyielding,
memories of the damage.
My poppy laden with sunlit shrapnel and whistling bombs,
tanks that became iron coffins,
friendships forged and lost in foxholes and
relentless terror masked as jocular camaraderie.
Tho’ blood red, the flower over my heart represents a wartime palette,
colours of pitted landscape.
My poppy laden with yellow-brown mustard gas and tan Afghan dust,
gun-metal skies over rows of white crosses,
bloodied soldiers who shot because they believed it to be right and
ashen soldiers who didn’t shoot for the same reason.
Lightly, softly, colourfully, the flower over my heart carries forward,
prayers of hope.
My poppy laden with solemn ceremonies and whispered prayers,
moments of silence in the dying tones of “The Last Post”,
seeds churned up in turmoil to become symbols of hope and rebirth and
a new day cherished in the bugle call of “Reveille”.