Remember me

Help for Heroes  http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/

This poem in its rambling fractured style is meant to reflect the mood and memories of a wounded soldier of unspecified age and unspecified war.

*****

I once asked a youthful love

to remember me.

To remember me

in every minute of her day.

I made a promise

to remember her.

Did she remember me?

*

Does anyone remember me?

Cry out “I remember!” if you do.

And in remembering, remember ‘us’ too.

*

I remember ‘us’ in my waking and my sleeping

I remember ‘us’ in every minute of my day.

That ‘us.’

That band of thrown together ‘us’ –

Our friendships forged in foreign land.

*

Across ground rent by battle our torn feet fell,

in foul mire slipping; seeking

Silence. And escape from hell.

Faith destroyed, we lost our way –

forgot to stop; forgot to pray.

Shivering, we lay, shattered –

shot through with seering pain.

And exhausted; slept,

beneath a heavy, choking rain.

“Get up! Push on!”

And weeping, up we lept,

To stagger forward, on and together on,

midst ricochetting, screaming death, poised

waiting to snatch our breath.

In dark gloom, fog  and shrieking noise

we ‘pressed on,’

til rupturing,

the earth exploding burst,

spitting sand shards into eyes,

and lips grit-crusted, mocking thirst.

*

I hear her voice, a melodic memory,  in my hollowed ears.

And whilst falling, with intense rush I sudden remember me,

in flickering flashbacks; cine

moments – tossed chaotic – adrift on life’s lost sea.

*

In a nighmare, black, I wake

my eyes on fire.

Somewhere, a muffled half-heard singing, that I strain to hear

with ears ruptured by the blast.

Somewhere, sweet scent blows through open window –

green fields, gorse and honeysuckle.

Somewhere, in dreams I walk, with red balloon.

Red.

Red dripping blood. Red haemorrhaging into sand.

Remember me! I cry! Remember! … re-mem–ber –

morphine’s gentle push down slumber slide.

*

Later, much much later, my fingers find

her last letter; paper crisp

against my heart.

Unread and unanswered.

Years on, unanswered still.

Did she remember me?

*

As  autumn’s curtain draws on summer

And birds soar in sweeping last farewell,

Like leaves that float and turning fall

let luck grasp at memories dropping through zephyr breeze

and let us pause to remember

my friends,

those whom I did not join,

the nation’s fallen bravest best.

Remember them, the dead.

But also remember me, the living –

remember me.

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Remember

I wrote this – thanks to a flat white coffee and a dog walk – on the morning of National Poetry Day in the UK: Thursday 2nd October 2014. The theme was ‘Remember’. I meet a lot of elderly people through work and the quiet dignity of one couple earlier that week inspired this poem.

I remember electricity in our hands –

Sparks of fire twixt fingers twined –

With footfall fleet in ceilidh dance

as love locked us, laughing, in spinning reel.

My love, do you recall?

I remember winter’s kiss of snowflake, fall

On cheeks flushed hot neath veil

And your eyes with water filled

When my step rang on stone of stern kirk aisle.

My love, do you recall?

I remember a tight-lipped man, come home from war –

My trusting boy with wounded soul, weeping “Move on.”

“Move on!” you cried, til gentle tilling of the land and lowing of the beasts

Taught you to smile again.

My love, do you recall?

I remember tears running down your smiling face,

Speechless, cradling our child in your trembling arms

Promising inside to never let her go,

To fill her life with love and dreams.

My love, do you recall?

I remember your awful coat – ripped cuffs and pocket-gravel –

How with wry knowing smile you spoiled your faithful dogs,

The trees we planted and stood back and watched grow

And the garden we nurtured together and the seasons that passed.

My love, do you recall?

I remember our friends – those who sailed into our lives,

Anchored up and stayed, still dearly loved,

and those who lingered a while, loitering,

then travelled on beyond our realm, lost.

My love, do you recall?

I remember the chattering excitement of building dreams

For hope and happiness shared.

I remember sitting midst insect hum at dusk

our bench, our place, our quiet time to talk. To plan. Together.

My love, do you recall?

I remember the sneezing fizz of champagne,

Spluttering of words and family smiles

At wriggling grandchildren hushed

And glasses, high clinking, toasting sixty years of our love.

My love, do you recall?

I remember tears when first you said goodbye

On our bench, at dusk, while still you knew me, knew you.

I still bring you here. But it is to the silent stranger sitting between us

That I tell my memories of a life we once knew.

My love, do you recall?

Please, if you remember anything,

remember

I love you.