I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

25 April 2017

My Anzac Day

War planes are flying over the town.
I hear them above the low cloud cover,
rumbling their way to the local park
to salute the Anzac Day celebration.

I am not at the Dawn Service.
'At the going down of the sun,' 
I might remember them – 'and 
in the morning,' but not at dawn.

I sleep sound – partly, no doubt
because men of my father's
and grandfathers' generations 
fought and didn't always return.

My Dad didn't dress up in his uniform
like the others, and march. That was because 
he couldn't, with his gammy leg
(acquired not in war but when he was 10).

It kept him from the front, too, 
but he went to Camp in Central Australia
(somewhere secret) – so I was just as much 
fatherless – training to repel invasion.

He used to lift me up on his shoulders
to watch our town's old diggers march:
his mates, eyes right, looking proud and smart.
I knew them as humble, kindly men.

In my passionate youth, I rejected
Anzac Day, that holy of holies,
as glorification of war – like so many
did at that time, from my generation.

We were Make love not war,
we were Give peace a chance.
But the fire and the noise of our views
for a time divided our nation.

And then, eventually, we all grew up.
After Vietnam, even our parents could see,
all wars dirty your hands. After East Timor, 
even I understood, some fights need to happen.

In recent years I went through a phase
of watching the big Sydney march
on the telly, feeling surprisingly sentimental
for all who survived and all who are gone.

This year, I won't. There's too much war 
in the world again. I'm meeting with other 
mothers and crones instead, to enquire, 
'How can we strengthen our light?' and begin.
















Linking to The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads' on day 25 of April Poetry Month.

Also linked to Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, hosted by Magaly Guerrero.

Photo: Challenge by Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1940), shown here in accordance with Fair Use. This was posted with the prompt at 'imaginary garden'. Also it reminds me that the Australian AIF military badge during World War 2 was in the shape of a rising sun (which I believe I am not allowed to reproduce here for legal reasons).

22 comments:

  1. Wisdom achieved through balance...Go Mothers and Crones. Begin.

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  2. 'How can we strengthen our light'... what a beautiful mission. I wish we could all do that and end all of these wars at once.

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  3. Oh Rosemary, I just love what you've written here. I have had this "conflict of ambivalence" going on in my head all day. Thank you so much for this optimistic perspective.

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    1. Glad it helped, dear Dianne. Some things just don't have easy answers!

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  4. The rest of the world seems to forget Anzac Day - I'm glad it's on my calendar. I like the way you have gone back in time, using the war planes to transport your memories. I felt a special connection to:

    'We were Make love not war,
    we were Give peace a chance.
    But the fire and the noise of our views
    for a time divided our nation'.

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  5. The "gammy leg" made me smile. Weird thing to smile about, I know. But so many people used injury as excuse not to do what needed to be done, that when I see a soul that limped forward into responsibility, I smile.

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  6. Such an incredibly evocative write, Rosemary. I was especially touched by the closing; "How can we strengthen our light?' and begin.

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  7. Kindly men... Yes so many of them... I see the hate, anger and rage of those wanting war today, and I remember asking my grandad who never would speak much of it and lost every friend he had in the battle at Somme when I was around 8 why he wanted to fight, he said he didn't really, he was 17, and he and his friends just wanted to get out of the coal mines they had been working in since they were 12... Such young men, sent to die, so sad, I really like how you caught the sentiment, and the wisdom of not always knowing how to respond to war.

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  8. I'm not sure war is ever wanted, really... it's just how do we solve the violence brought on by nations that won't listen. And of course, hindsight is not really fair but we can learn from it if we are wise. Sigh... I like the line "how can we strengthen our light"...

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  9. You final paragraph sums up my attitude to the world we find ourselves living in.

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  10. THAT is the question, and the need: How can we strengthen our light? Well said, my friend and fellow crone.

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  11. It is sad that some fights have to happen, yet regrettably they do. And we never learn...
    I hope some day we will learn to live with each other but I think it will be a long time coming...

    Anna :o]

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  12. You are right. We have been at war so long, we believe it a necessity. But a change is coming.

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  13. Yes, how can we strengthen our light? So much war, so little peace.

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  14. Nice writing, Rosemary. I do hope you honored the day in some way, the evening time would be great. It seems to be similar too our Memorial Day, this year May 29. It is always the last Monday in May. At one time it was for the fallen soldiers, then included also the wounded, and now it is any veteran as well. That includes me, I spent five years of my precious life in the U.S. Army. It did give me career skills in electronics. I'll tell it some day.
    Dark side? Your April 25, Anzac Day, is also my fist wedding anniversary day. I would have been married forever but my ex decided to leave for another after we had 13 years. Last year would have been our 60th wedding anniversary. I still miss her in a way. Mrs. Jim and I have been married 44 years now. I don't tell this often, I hope not TMI.
    ..

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    1. Dear Jim, I love your informative comments, never TMI. It's gracious of you to share yourself so.

      I guess I honoured the Day this year by writing the above poem!

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  15. I hope more meetings bring more fire. Thank you for this, Rosemary ~

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  16. I really get the sense of the passing of time in this piece. I have also heard it said at some of my local demonstrations that the fierce peace loving grannies are a force to be reckoned with. Don't stop being fiercely loving.

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  17. The last stanza brought tears to my eyes. My son went to serve our country, and this year when a neighbour started celebrating our 4th of July on the 2nd, I found myself on the floor with my son over top me suffering a flashback. He has a hard time holding down full-time employment -- even in a Navy town, which is especially bitter -- but I love him fiercely and will keep nursing him to health while standing with all the mothers and grandmothers who are ready to strengthen the light.

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    1. Now there are tears in mine, for both your son and you.

      We have a little TV show here called 'You can't ask that' where people in a particular category answer written questions sent in anonymously – the stuff everyone really wants to know, which is much too rude to ask in person. Last night it was a group of disabled veterans (both physically and mentally damaged by their service experiences). It was illuminating – and heart-rending. They were not asking for pity, mind you; they were very matter-of-fact and upfront. In the end, asked if they considered civilians to be naive, they all said, 'Yes, most civilians are blissfully ignorant – and I'm glad they are; I fought so that they could be.' Wow, such huge courage! Whatever other reasons they had for joining up, helping others was always the major intention.

      I am sure it was no accident that this episode of the show was timed to immediately follow Anzac Day ... and one man, who was most visibly injured, said he was glad to be able to march wearing his medals, because it was the one time people looked at him and understood why he looks as he now does. (Others had no visible injuries, but....)

      Then again, your final remark reminds me vividly of one of the big anti-Vietnam War marches in Melbourne long ago. (Did you know a lot of young Aussies were conscripted and sent to that war? Many Americans don't realise we were there too.) A young man who wasn't marching harangued the crowd of marchers furiously: 'My mate was killed over there!' A dignified old man with a European accent turned to him and said, 'Then why are you not marching with us?'

      I was expecting my first child when that war began, and used to protest (peacefully) as part of a group of women called SOS (Save Our Sons). I remember when we turned up with our banners at the first intake of conscripts, these young lads shuffling and making brave jokes, clearly not really knowing what they were getting into. Several of the mothers there to see them off came up to where we were standing with our banners, saying things like, 'I'm with you!' (Well, that one did stop eventually; we must not lose heart.)

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