Where My Great Grandfather Lies

The location is only recently discovered. An unmarked grave, a place where he has lay since succumbing finally to the gas that ravaged and burned his airways and lungs. Effects that would have thwarted any joyful, loving, homecoming.

New Year’s Eve, 1919. The day that the year would have trembled on the edge of extinction, dragged that wheezing, gasping man with it.

The world moved on to new beginnings.

Today, the ground is just the ground, unremarkable, undisclosed. The air is dank and cold, resonant with stirring echoes that insinuate images and moments that the imagination seizes and runs with.

A broken woman holds a young girl’s hand, their emotions fluid and merging, seeping deep into the soil.

The seasons pass, the earth turns, the girl grows into a woman who now holds the hand of another girl, a chain link of affected generations.

The original woman now shares the space with the man, beneath their feet. Black lace married to khaki for eternity.

This later woman lays flowers on the anonymous spot, watched by the girl who swallows her questions, then they both wander away to visit another, freshly festering, sore.

The girl glances back once as they near the chapel, sees me, distant, taking my turn.

Devoid of crosses, I leave this marker, small and consumed, in this place that has anchored fatherless girls to stare at an empty spot, while daring to contemplate alternative worlds.

I depart this ground with a solemn promise, and the autumn leaves gently circle, dancing to time’s capricious tune.




9 thoughts on “Where My Great Grandfather Lies

      • Both for sure. It’s nice that you know where he is now and he’s somewhat close to ‘home’.. on a history trip a few years ago, some of my classmates found the graves of their relatives in Belgium and France.. I can’t imagine what that must be like.
        On Thursday I taught a small group of year 10s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.. what a poem!


      • Yes great poem. And by coincidence-my Gt Grandfather above did die as a result of being gassed when at the front. (There is a photograph of him on another post
        I’ve done.) Wilfred Owen was killed just a week before the war ended. It seems more tragic, although in reality his death is as tragic as those killed in the first week of the war. It is just the feeling that he ‘almost made it.’ Doubly so the soldiers who were killed after the armistice had been signed-news was yet to reach the troops that the war was ended.


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