Poem of the Day

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Atonement

 

Coast of Normandy,

France, Omaha Beach.

Today the tide is out –

barely a ripple.

Cement bunkers and bomb craters

merge into the grass,

haunted

 

by d-day, June ‘44.

Wave after wave, forward or drown,

nowhere to go but falling.

Mangled tanks, body parts.

Blood on the tide.

Exploding cliffs.

 

Now the guns are sold for scrap,

the bodies collected,

laid in neat rows

in the cemetery above,

 

under white marble crosses,

so precisely placed

that if I kneel I see one –

if I stand I see thousands.

 

Oceans of crosses.

I read along the rows –

Name: Regiment: Hometown:

Creep soundlessly, with sickened awe.

Is sleep a just reward?

 

The Pool of Remembrance:

waterlilies soften its sharp angles,

wisp of a breeze ruffles the reflection

of chiselled words on the monument above.

 

Can the sacrifice be softened?

Can the past be put to rest?

 

In the distance the gardener kneels,

shears in hand, cutting the grass,

blade by blade. Around one cross

then on to the next –

and on and on and on.

Glenys Eskdale

Glenys said: I wrote this poem after visiting the Colleville, the American war cemetery at the site of the d-day landings in Normandy in June 1944. I have since visited World War One war cemeteries on the Somme in France. My sentiments have not changed. Nothing can atone for the unspeakable horrors these men endured.

 

 

 

 

 

Poem of the Day

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Legacy

by Elizabeth Cummings

The dawn striped red across the sky
When standing still we gazed upon the sea
Breathing in the silence drawing near
As patriotic flags flapped in the wind
We prayed and thought about this legacy.
Our minds dwelling on the many and the many more
Who gave their lives too soon in all those wars
And their aching families who mourn them yet
And the countries whose pride they to death held dear.
When bearing death, their legacy they gave.

The talking and the praying goes on
The hymns that some still know
And sing in quivering tone and tune
In time as the quiet comes and goes
About this legacy and so a unified conscience grows.

Now the wreaths are being laid down
Beside the twin flag poles
Names are called with due respect

And whilst we hear “the Last Post” played.
We reflect on how their loss to us our freedom gave

When will we know when we have learnt
Through all those lessons that war taught

And whilst we are stirred by native spirit

To all rise to praise the strong and dead
We sing our half-forgotten anthems with our coy pride

 

As the crowds now make their way

And file past the decorated stones
That mark the lives of those unknown

Whose legacy only our little lives do show
And whose coldness hold warm the hearts of all those left.

 

Should we not find some better thing

Some meaning for ourselves

Some way to comprehend this gift, this loss

To ask ourselves what bleeding heart, what weeping soul

Can immortalise this bloody legacy.

 

So take up your arms and leave your soul

To mourn on what was lost

For these memories of the dead will not bring back

Nor lay to rest the passion and the harm

That simmers in these hearts of the mournful young

 

They will learn in their own time

What it is that harms a man

But if there be but one sole prayer

That we should chant in eternal unison

Be it that this day shall be their legacy for peace.

 

  • Submitted in response to Poetry Prompt #17

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