Sunday, 7 January 2018



Looking at you in that photo
you seem so happy.
You smile your charming smile,
your image in black and white
for your young wife and child
on the other side of the world,
even though in the background 
are the propellers of the war-machine
in which you set out into danger
night after freezing night,
flying over the cold North Sea
or down into the Bay of Biscay.

Looking at you in that photo
I think of the complexity of love,
the chasm between reality and desire,
the razor wire entanglement denying
our bright anticipation for the future.
What did your future bring? 
Shrunken lungs, a cocktail of pills, rage 
and a terrible, conflicted love for your second son, 
the one who could only bend for a little while 
before he refused to be like you
and fought against your need to control.

Looking at you in that photo
I am filled with tender sadness.
Scabs disappear, wounds heal,
time brings changed perspective.
I now know that there is nothing
other than love and forgiveness.
Compassion replaces tears and defiance.
You gave me life and held me in your arms
but I have never walked in your shoes.
I never went to war, never suffered from chronic illness,
never was gripped by something darkly horrible
that held tight and would not let go.

Now, looking at you in that photo, 
somehow, miraculously, 
from the bombed rubble of the past
a younger, happier man emerges.
Is this your true self,
the person you always wanted to be?
What I see is a good young man standing
in front of a Wellington bomber,
trapped in a global nightmare,
far from from home and family,
making a huge sacrifice,
true to the values he holds,
a lovely young man whose smile, 
in the midst of daily danger and death,
is now forever fixed in hope.

I have always loved you
and I have wept for you.
Now, finally, I give you honour.

First published in Verse-Virtual.

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