The Stone Platoon
How else to look at this fountain
with adjacent memorial statues?
Drizzle’s left droplets finding paths
through embossed verdigris,
such-and-such a name who fell.
I’m not close enough to make
more of others’ particular loss
in whichever battle or campaign.
The stone platoon endures
inclement weather, helmeted,
bayonets fixed at thickening air.
Remembrance Sunday every year
we'd stand with such indifference:
dragooned Boy Scouts in the breeze
which furled around a cenotaph.
We’d put up with it, out of respect –
although, eventually, out of respect,
we’d be prone to goose bumps,
laughter and knocked knees.
Here, though, are three historians
come to read blurred epitaphs
for losses in some foreign field.
What could it be to them,
in any event, who died
and who came home again?
Their silence affects some care
as, beneath a sun-split sky,
they line up for a photograph
before those who, in memoriam there,
did the best they could have done.
April 2010, originally circulated by Various Artists, May 2010