armistice

audio of text… apols for blackbird singing, may 21 when i recorded audio!

Granny (Edith), Uncle Harry, Aunty Annie
I was fortunate enough to have these 3 (and several others from that generation) as substantial presences in my childhood
It’s a blessing to actually be able to stretch out ones arms and almost feel 100 years. four generations, them, the folks, us, the kids.
Here they are, younger than i was when they died, and indeed younger than my kids are
i really like this photo of a photo, i was up at mums last week rummaging through some of the many boxes and found it in an old album, probs grannys, don’t remember ever having seen it before? tho may well have done.
you can somehow see much of their personalities that i knew so many decades later… youthful radiance

audio of text (spring)

a slightly off kilter (and a little bit muddled!) honouring of the armistice… a catastrophe. the consequences of which have reverberated down through the years, a trauma that stays carried within our bodies, whether we realise it or not
i feel reluctant around any official remembrance and all the myths, symbolism and narratives that entails
Not even wishing, except with factual brevity to say much about their lives (with honesty we can only tell our own stories?) but two of their older brothers died during the war, one as a soldier, one from consumption, annie worked in an armoury factory
Harry volunteered when 15, tho that sounds impossible, and was captured, then a prisoner of war in France
Their lives also spanned the great depression, another war and the post war austerity. Staggering.
My somewhat calmer impression of remembrance day was of being a cub, standing outside on esher green, always a cold grey drab November morning, shorts and the astonishing skimpiness of jumpers in the 70’s!
the extraordinary silence of 2 minutes before the bugle sounded
Tomorrow I’ll put on some elgar, as thats what mum and dad always did, and think fond thoughts of these 3, and all my ancestors
but also spreading out from that in a spirit of compassion… may all beings be well, may all beings be happy and free from suffering. Love

mel: I love this. I haven’t seen this photo before. Also love your words. Captured the feelings perfectly. Also remember standing to attention on Esher Green !!

RB : it’s a great snap, suprisingly warm and casual by the formal standards of the day, but that might just be that we know them well xx

larkin

The Explosion – by Larkin
On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
In the sun the slagheap slept.
Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke,
Shouldering off the freshened silence.
One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark’s eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.
So they passed in beards and moleskins,
Fathers, brothers, nicknames, laughter,
Through the tall gates standing open.
At noon, there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun,
Scarfed as in a heat-haze, dimmed.
The dead go on before us, they
Are sitting in God’s house in comfort,
We shall see them face to face –
Plain as lettering in the chapels
It was said, and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion
Larger than in life they managed –
Gold as on a coin, or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them,
One showing the eggs unbroken.

a poem for the armistice, always loved this one by larkin, tho not about war at all, elegiac and beautiful, with, possibly, the most transcendent last line in poetry… gives me goosebumps anyway x

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