I remember leaving Paris last November early in the morning, taking the cab to the secure parking lot on the edge of the city where we had housed our car, then realizing that in the very rushed exit from our apartment, we had not loaded the map onto the ipad. We had no paper map, and we knew that if we didn’t get out of the city now, it would be “rush hour”, and I was pretty sure we didn’t want to be trying to navigate the spaghetti-like roads in that! We managed, though, but again, it seemed a lot more stressful than it should have been…in retrospect, we should have chilled a bit more.
Anyway, the point was, leaving Paris in such a state – we briefly considered driving straight to Brugges rather than trying to find our way to Vimy Ridge, and then on to Belgium that same day. This very humbling poem that Darragh wrote yesterday for the local Legion’s Remembrance Day Poetry Contest makes me so glad we didn’t give in to our rather pathetic impulse to take the easier route.
Last November, I was at Vimy Ridge
As I walked up the gravel path
The huge memorial appeared through the mist
Tall and graceful yet strong and powerful it stood.
On it were precise carvings – people in cloth,
Looking up to the sky.
Names carved in marble, names of soldiers who have died for us.
As my dad lectures on about wartime, I imagine:
Soldiers crawl up the bombed trenches
Aiming and shooting
Mud squelches under their boots as they run
Sheltering their heads with their hands
A bomb drops and the earth erupts in a torn explosion
Some dead, some wounded, some dripping with tears
All expressionless, waiting for good news.
A soldier yells as one of his friends is taken by a bullet.
He ducks, but I can feel his tears. Feel his pain.
Rain parades onto the dead landscape
As more guns fire and bombs explode.
I look up at the huge memorial.
Strong and Proud.
A small ray of light breaks through the fog –
That ray of hope soldiers waited for and never got.
That ray of light I now look at freely.
“Thank you”, I whisper to the breeze.
But I am really whispering to the soldiers who
Saved my country and my life.
Because of them, I see this sunlight.
Because of them, I have this hope.