Every year on Armistice Day, the 11th day of November, at
the eleventh hour, we remember all those who have died
or been hurt in war. We remember, too, all those who have
been caught up in violence, who have trembled with pain,
wept with sorrow and grieved for the pain and loss of those
they love. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance.
Lately, poppies are in the fields, Beaming amongst the yellow corn, Smiling in the tall tangle Of wayward grasses and nubs of moody ragwort In the hedgerows. Careless, it seems, of the close threat Of the dark, the bitter nettle, Crowding their calm loveliness.
When rain comes, the nettle rejoices As those lovely heads are beaten into the dust. For a while, all seems lost, Until they rise again. Their scarlet pennants trembling In the powerful forces ranged against them. Trembling, yet standing firm.
Frail and beautiful, their petals A flick of red on the painted air. Beautiful and frail, as are all who stand guard Against the nettled strength waiting its chance To crush that which is fragile.
Yet the nettle has always misjudged the poppy, Seeing only its frailty, Blind to its endurance. And this world is full of poppies Shining their bright and lovely defiance Into every place where darkness seeks dominion, Their crimson glory forever seeding the earth with hope.
He loved flowers. Couldn’t walk down the street Without glancing into every garden.
Roses always a favourite, Whilst the joyful gaiety of the delphinium Convinced him once again The sky had a lot to do with it. Scattering the flower with a handful of bright blue pieces. Tiny petals of freedom. He loved most The minty green perfection, leaf and stem Of quiet carnation. A delicate beauty wearing its best frilly dress For a dance of stately, slow, seduction.
Whilst the wild and burning glory Of the chrysanthemum, Set his own heart blazing.
Once, he stopped in front of Henry’s garden, The neglected patch of ground Covered in tiny yellow dandelions, Flowers which expected nothing Turning a small dark square into a slice of sunshine.
Thinking of those long ago peace people Thrusting flowers into barrels of guns, He understood it was time to go, The path to town unfurling in front of him.