ANZAC DAY – An elegy extra for April 25.4.2018

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As I publish this it is early on the morning of ANZAC and in an hour or so hundred upon thousands of people in NewZealand and Australia, as far as the peninsular in Gallipoli and later in London they will gather to remember with sadness the men and women of all the overseas wars our personnel have served in. We will remember them.

My Uncle Paul, my godfather, served and suffered but came home to us the loving man he had always been. God Bless you, my beloved  Uncle. Benno in the poem is my father.

 

Dear Brother Benno

to:  Uncle Paul

 

My father, eleven years of age at the time, Paul

was twenty-three. A postcard from France, 1916.

 

Received mail from home some time ago.

Enquires of Benno new teacher, better

than the old                                And, I say

Benno have you grown any more since I saw

you last, or are you still as small as ever. Give

my best love to Mother and Father. I remain

your loving brother.

 

A curly letter  M – addressed to Mr Benno,

squeezed beneath which he wrote. I also received

a letter from Linda. Can you tell them that.

Again no question mark appears, though all

available space is used, taking care to show only

the face he most dearly wishes his family to see.

 

Turn the postcard over and on it embroidered

 

‘Greetings from the trenches’

 

Conservation work is needed here with flimsy

fabric and cardboard lifting. But in this small

card you confirmed us in the family of ANZAC.

You remain for me a hero, the kindest of men

and of the suffering you never spoke. I often held

the hands that from the outbreak of yet another war

never ceased to shake. For how long then could you

continue at your trade of carpentry? An old man

before your time. And, when yet another war began

in 1939 Benno, by then, soldiering in the Homeguard,

because he too past a prime for warring as Paul had done

in World War One: four long years Egypt, France, Gallipoli.

 

Benita H. Kape © 27.10.2013

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Family – Pop – NaPoWriMo 17.4.2018

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Pop at Church Door

A Cycle Clip & the Queen

 

Here is a photo of Pop;

custodian at his local church –

after an earthquake, something

like forty years ago, rubble spread

down the front steps.  But

there he was hearth brush and shovel

about to sweep the spoil into a bin.

 

The family still talk about the day

the Queen attended service here

and at the bottom of these very steps spent

a moment or two speaking with our Pop.

 

This photo, taken just after the earthquake,

is how best we remember him.

That cycle clip holding his trousers:

(and what you cannot see, the string,

never a belt, around his waist holding

up those trousers) yes, that clip always just

above his right ankle: that, and the call

of a magnificent AMEN at the end of every

prayer, every hymn: the congregation

well remembered, and took his lead.

 

The many Sundays he was here is what

comes to me as I take my place in choir

so many years after he has passed away.

 

I doubt he would have worn the cycle

clip around the right trouser leg of his

very best suit, nor the length of string

at his waist, the day he met the Queen.

 

Benita Kape © 17.4.2018

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Our prompt for the day (optional as always) follows Gowrishankar’s suggestion that we write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time. It could be the story of the time your Uncle Louis caught a home run ball, the time your Cousin May accidentally brought home a coyote and gave it a bath, thinking it was a stray dog, or something darker (or even sillier).

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Sunshine Bridge

SUNSHINE BRIDGE - ANGUS

Sunshine Bridge

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Oh, My Little One – GloPoWriMo – Day Three – Today’s prompt: Elegy

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Oh, My Little One

to: Andrew

Oh, my little one,

you lived your few days

in an incubator, the better

to assist your survival.

We held you, but oh,

so seldom. Mostly I sat

at your side and watched

your incredible struggle;

hands grasping the tubes,

tugging and pulling at those

wretched contraptions, while

secretly I cheered you on.

.

That everlasting pause,

as the vicar,

elderly and perplexed studied

the tiny opening through which

he would drop the tiniest dribble

of blessed water to your forehead:

and signed the cross in the thin air

above you. All was rushed, yet all

was still as still. The next morning

they flew you to the big city, the

amazing hospital of modern miracles:

your little body opened but nothing

could be done. Where should be

a left ventricle of your heart, you

had little, valves awry. Today the

miracles increase; but not then.

.

This year it will be fifty since you

were born and died within a few days.

There are times, my son when it feels

like yesterday. And we are wont to say

the dead look down on us. Oh, my

little one, are you there?

Benita H. Kape © 3.4.2017

This took place in New Zealand. A few days previously the first ever heart replacement operation had taken place in Sout Africa. My husband and I were saying to each other ‘If only we had a spare heart to give’. It was forty years before I would learn that the left ventricle had never fully developed though I did know of valve malfunction at the time. Sometimes they thought that was sufficient information.

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Back When I – NaPoWriMo 2016 – Day 17

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Back When I was Ten Year old
To: Noeline

She sits knitting and knitting, this sister of mine.
She is only twelve years old, but very smart.
Counting the pixels of a lino frieze on the wall,
Close to her vision behind her on the couch.

Two colours only is what she will use.
Balls of gold, balls of green. Woollen threads
She weaves as she copies this design,
Into a Fair-isle Sunday cardigan for me.

The fair-isle cardigan, like every knitted
Garment, garments of all sorts, passed
Down in a family of nine.
And how my sister knitted, loved knitting!

She knitted garments in Mock-cable stitch;
Bubble-stitch and Chevron,
Herring-bone and Blue-bell rib,
Scallop Stitch and Honeycomb-lace.

And after she retired from retail;
Selling fabric and haberdashery to farmer’s wives,
She fed her passion, her industry,
With her knitting machines, shawl after shawl.

Tiny bonnets, bootees, singlets: she stitched their seams
While watching telly in the evening.
Widowed, children gone she worked on and on.
With her knitting seven days a week

Sharing her skills with others,
Until, almost overnight, she lost
The sight in one eye.
And then her hips played her up.

Her machines (all three) she sold:
Took up embroidery
Stitches with similar names –
Cable-stitch, Herring-stitch and Honeycomb.

But as with knitting and embroidery
Life can zig-zag to a sad change of pattern.
Though I will forever see her as then
Knitting a Fair-isle cardigan for me.

Benita H. Kape © 17.4.2016

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). Today, I challenge you to find, either on your shelves or online, a specialized dictionary. This could be, for example, a dictionary of nautical terms, or woodworking terms, or geology terms. Anything, really, so long as it’s not a standard dictionary! Now write a poem that incorporates at least ten words from your specialized source

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