Paul – by David Mead

Searching, I worried somehow he was lost to me,

That in this place, there may be nothing of him.

But there; the name, his rank, a number,

The regimental badge, that awful date,

A simple plaque, a wooden stake,

Beside a sapling.

 

It was a smaller grove, a little distant,

Though that would not surprise him,

In stark bronze lists he knows his place,

Always towards the end,

Etched ‘fallen soldier’,

Not ‘true friend’.

I knew no better.

 

Other mates lie scattered in different groves among the alphabet,

Young men searching, reaching for a foothold on the tree of life,

Far from family, home, young wife,

They too, cut down.

 

It is a Sunday quiet place,

The Garrison Chapel close by, HIS presence here.

Though when I rake my mind for our beliefs then, I shudder.

For I did believe; in cause, country, us, him, he in me and we in God,

Until that night when our youth, my team, pride, good young men, a friend, all were lost,

Blown away in a metal storm.

——-

Some of us recovered,

With some of our beliefs

While others in battles unceasing,

Fight awful images night after night,

In vain they search to answer “WHY?”

Their mates, a child, the innocent,

Should be horribly maimed,

Or die.

——–

This Memorial was built with love,

By Mates who saw such sacrifice,

And when at last Their time has passed,

To sit quietly here in contemplation,

Others will come to walk this path,

To reflect on the fallen of our nation.

And strong and tall will be the tree,

Of a fine young man etched in history,

For generations to come,

I’ll never see.

 

But should I reach the other place,

Paul, I long to meet you face to face,

Sip from one brew, see that impish grin,

To talk of things that might have been.

To have the time to share the truth,

One only sees beyond his youth,

To have a chance to say “Goodbye”

And “Sorry Mate”, and not to cry.

One More Plaque – by David Mead

I have lived and worked overseas for many years, mainly in Cambodia, and am back

briefly in Australia.

 

One of my current trades is poetry and I composed two pieces relative to the

Memorial Walk a few years ago.

 

One More Plaque

 

Late sunlight filters through the trees,

Across bronze plaques beneath,

The northeast breeze stirs young leaves,

Greens and golds form a living wreath.

 

The regimental crest surmounts each plaque,

Number, rank, name, battalion, the date,

Facing out, silent, in fading light,

Back in the jungle, ‘standing to’ with a mate.

——

 

Some find comfort that the cause was just,

That they served their nation truly,

But their ‘duty first’ was to team and to task,

And they held to that duty dearly.

——-

 

The trees guard the spirits of those beneath,

Lost comrades, a good friend, “My mate!”

And when we that are left have passed from sight,

We’ll share a picket with pride, to see out the night.

——-

 

Families who come to reflect on a loved one,

“Father”, “My husband”, “My brother”, “Our son”,

Know the memory, his name will ever live on,

With diggers, our soldiers, still just as young,

Still willing to die for the mate at their side,

Still wearing as they did,

That same badge, with such pride.

——-

 

And you who would send men, may you walk this path,

Among our young heroes, now departed,

Walk down the groves of conflict time,

Reflect on our losses, precious lives bartered,

And pray for such wisdom, never to see,

Even one more plaque, by one more tree.