We browse the coffee shops and market stalls
beneath the tired, horizon-tilted gaze
of a giant, standing silently above
Our Glorious Dead, and Honour, Gratitude, Praise.
Beyond those words, what did the sculptor mean?
That we should read the dates and names, and know
they’d stood unbowed, and that their sacrifice
has leached into the soil in which we’ve grown?
That we too should be ready to be called?
Or stand so close we feel the webbing’s weave
and bear the rifle, knapsack, bayonet
and pouches’ weight, see what this soldier sees
and saw – and ask what he might want to say?
“You barely see the plinth you hurry by,
eyes to the ground, and once a year place flowers
for a past in which I may have died,
while I, my future finished, look ahead.
But, cast in bronze, I’m cursed: I have no tongue;
I don’t know you; I never knew this town;
I see, but can’t reveal, what’s still to come.”
Phil lives in Kent in the UK. He works as an advisor on peacebuilding and international development. His first full collection Poetry After Auschwitz was published by Sentinel in 2020. Hedgehog Poetry Press published This Quieter Shore, a micro-pamphlet, in 2019, and will publish a full collection Watching the Moon Landing in 2021. Some of his published work can be found on his website www.philvernon.net/category/poetry.
The Ekphrastic Review
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