We present this work in honor of ANZAC Day.
Made ghosts in all their country’s wars
they come, the young men in my dreams
with shattered skulls, intestines trailing
in the sand, the mud, the stuff the TV doesn’t
show unless it’s Africa. Or someplace else where
colour doesn’t count, democracy a word
they carted like a talisman, a passport
to the candles, bells of sainthood.
Restored to wake indoors alive, blanketed,
dreams fallen away like ash in birdsong,
sun filtering the blind slats, I’m reprimanded.
My ghosts keep talking: “You thought you knew
it all. Tonight maybe your book and candle,
night light burning infantile, shoes tucked
neat beneath will douse your eyelids closed
with ash, shut them down for good. Our dreams were yours.
You’ll sleep all right with us
and never never wake. Night lights,
books and candles lost the war against our
childhood, growing, long ago, their power
to charm away the everlasting dark a myth:
silence lasts forever. Listen, while you can,
to unseen saplings somewhere falling.
Young men, you dear young men, I’m listening.