Remembrance by Sally Thomas

Remembrance

In November we walk hand in hand
Home from school in the gathering dark.
Wintry rain blows through the stand
Of stripped poplars next to the park.

Everywhere, red poppies pinned
To hurrying jackets repeat
Their seasonless bright cardstock kind
Along the wet wind-driven street.

Lest we forget, say three signs
That flap from the church’s black gate.
In the gutter rain rushingly shines
And clatters down through the storm grate.

What have we forgotten, you ask me.
We’ve remembered the tea, cheese, and bread.
We’ve kept up, for once, with the house key.
We’ve prayed for the long-fallen dead.

Our way takes us down by the river
That gleams though the gloom as it flows
In its loop round the town, tarnished silver
Where light strikes it, but black in the shadows.

Somewhere far away, guns are firing,
Though you and I, walking, can’t hear.
All we hear through the rain is the crying
Of water spilled over the weir.

The river runs through the flat fenland
On its wandering way to the sea.
I can feel your cold hand in my own hand,
Your hand holding on tight to me.

What can the river remember?
You ask me. Not even its name?
One poppy, a dropped paper ember,
Burns red as it circles downstream.

Somewhere far away, guns are firing,
Although we can’t hear them from here.
In the dusk the white seagulls are crying.
The river falls over the weir.

Home to our yellow-lit doorway
Down the dark passage our footsteps go.
What have we forgotten? —I can’t say.
No one in the world seems to know.

by Sally Thomas

Editor’s Note: We have forgotten the grief of war.

Photograph by Christine Klocek-Lim