War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

For VP on their centenary

for my beloved Patricias, who brought me home alive

I sing the song of a century Patricias,
born in white hot war I sing the song
for the furnace of craters, trench, mortar,
and roaring northern lights set
into the fire-power of night
across Flanders, across France,
through which you were born,
and I sing to you, wild flower transplants
Prairie boys who held the line
knew how to fight though it
so far from blond wheat fields
the open prairie, our sea-to-sea
to-sea country, of endless skies
where brown hawks herald spring,
and the curve of the earth is visible
to the naked eye, so far away
from the narrow band of light
above the trench of Ypres,
Arleux, Frezenberg Hill
Bellewaarde, Passchendaele, Mont Sorrel,
Amiens, The Somme, o The Somme.
Scarpe, Fleurs-Courcelette,
The Hindenberg Line,
Ancre, Heights Canal du Nord Arras,
Pursuit to Mons Vimy, Siberia.

I sing the song of 1939 to 45,
Sicily and Europe,
the long hard spine of fight
o weary rain and mud, weary
snow and heat
I sing of The Moro, The Gully, Leonforte,
Agira, then the merciless Hitler, Gothic, Rimini
Lines, and San Fortunato, Savio Bridgehead,
Naviglio Canal, Fosso Munio, Granarolo;
I sing Patricias, the song of flowers, strewn
by children,
that mend, that tend your brothers’ graves,
so that you will never be alone,
though silent, so far, so far from home
you will never be alone again.

I sing the song of Kapyong. 1950-54.
Of Patricias who barely took a breath
after war, before grabbing kit again,
weapons, rucks, marching
—tho Patricias disdain marching,
“Leave it to the RCRs” you say—
into swamps, humidity,
the noose of surround at Hill 677
where against all odds, you held the line.
I sing the song of fifty years later,
when you, old men, dined remembered
your dead through your glasses of wine
in the Legion. And you
remembered your live,
Korea brass on your chest,
Sgt., CO, private, Major,
you were one, all one again.

Then peace, if a song can be
sung then surely this is it
but is it what we think it is?
Germany, The Cold War, Cyprus,
Israel, Golan, Egypt,
Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Congo,
Vietnam, Central America,
Angola, Somalia, Rwanda,
O Rawanda. Yes, Patricias
Some of us have heard, know the cost of those.
There are no chocolates and roses
keeping peace, not in Croatia,
not in Bosnia, not in Medak Pocket.
To bear peace means to carry arms,
To carry the heavy load again.
Witness the Patricia gone to ground
in 98, after Bosnia, found, he was decorated
by the Colonel of the Regiment
at Whistler in 2010. Watch him stand straight
for the first time in two decades, proud
to be a Patricia again.

Then Afghanistan. O the song
Of Afghanistan,
the dusty, broken land
Of lapus lazuli skies, villages,
The fields of grape vines,
And pomegranates that bleed
Sweet and tart, and seed
Courage in our hearts,
I sing of Panjwaii, KAF
I sing of Kandahar, Spin Boldak,
Tarnak Farm, Balunday,
I sing of Anaconda, Apollo,
Medusa, Falcon’s Summit,
The Whale’s Back, Sangin,
Achilles, Hover, Moshtarak,
And I sing of the ones, especially
The boys I knew, who could not
Come home again. I sing for you.

I sing the song of your century
I sing now that the lilacs of spring
have passed, and summer is full,
I sing your century,
as you march pass—
Flanders to Kandahar,
The marguerite in full bloom.

SMSteele, Canadian War Artist Task-Force 3-09

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled For VP on their centenary. It was posted here on August 07, 2014.


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