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.