Sunday, November 8, 2020

Armistice memorial for Pte. D. Watson



Mr Watson ordered breakfast

this morning in French.

Oh no, there must be a mistake,

he doesn’t speak French!

No, he spoke good French. I did

a Higher in it. We had a

good conversation before

the drugs took him away.


Christ, he kept that hidden!

True to his Edwardian upbringing

modest to the end, never moaned

patiently waiting on the sun he

ay claimed would be along in time

broken at just 70 by all the

troubles of the century.

And now, we mounted final


guard around his bed while

we waited on him stepping

over to the ‘other quarters’.

Right at that last moment

before the bullet that didn’t get you

finally got you I like to think

you were with your old mates

you told me off


in some estaminet ordering

eggs and chips in French

for the last time; it was

always the last time for

some of them - young Lt. Cowan

training to be the lawyer

he never became. Tam, Don’t...!

you told him, and you’d no


sooner said it when he was

killed right there on the fire-step.

It was a mad wicked thing,

but I never met finer people-

that’s how life balances itself.

All those fine fellows who

got the wrong ticket home

just one now was waiting


to join their ranks perhaps

the finest of them all although

you would have strongly objected

to the compliment but knowing

something of life myself now

I stand by it

fraternal, hard-working

kind considerate appreciative


of daily blessings uncomplaining

while the cancer bayoneted

you over and over

I was only a boy without

the words to shape my

understanding of the sheer immensity

of your decency

and so now, Danny, old soldier


Grandad, over fifty years

after your final roll call, I salute

you and your kind and see you

with Jack and Pat easily

in my mind’s eye, loosening your belt,

taking off your tammy and

waiting to be offered a seat.

Excuse moi, Madame, pouvons nous avoir quelque chose a manger?

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