short fall

“…thinking of a gallant multitude/ Which now all withering lay/ Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay” 
Margaret Postgate Cole’s “Falling Leaves

And we who memorialize these many moons hereafter
may never picture  all the manifold contrasts
gallants marching as multitudes
soldier sweethearts in subdued song
and on to landscapes levelled and pocked
craters of skin and bone

in the space of two silent minutes
there is time enough to sign the letter home
to post orders from afar
the shell is airborne
limbs are torn from limbs
and gas creeps like a lovely ghost

but let us not plaster these dread deeds
in platitudes nor pick the bones as afterthought
parodying pacifism with pale trembling doves
universal Agape mouthed in hands across the water
war and peace are the seasons of our world
I pray always for a short fall

A poem for Remembrance Sunday where I’m joining others at Poetry Pantry

23 thoughts on “short fall

  1. I nearly missed this little box Laura, thinking (until finding) I was unable to lease a comment.
    There is much truth in your words and regrettably “war and peace are the seasons of our world.” and I too hope for a short fall…
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

    1. glad you found your way to the little box Anna and thank you – no wonder we mark armisitce in the Fall when the guns fell silent

  2. war and peace are seasons of this world…sadly true. Some strong lines here, especially liked parodying pacifism with pale trembling doves… great writing.

    1. thank you – whilst we rejoice in peaceful times, we remember too that those pale trembling doves had their counterparts in Racing Homer pigeons, used as messengers in both world wars and long before too – many nominated here for the PDSA Dickin Medal

  3. Indeed war and peace are the seasons of the world. As much as we like to THINK we try to eliminate war, it just doesn’t seem to happen…. and just like we cannot escape winters (even the metaphoric ones), we CANnot, unfortunately, escape war.

    1. to enjoy the summer we have to face the winter – is that the Cold War I wonder?!

  4. but let us not plaster these dread deeds
    in platitudes nor pick the bones as afterthought
    parodying pacifism with pale trembling doves

    Sadly enough many seem not to take it that seriously. The images of blood and destruction seem like just a drama to them


  5. “the space of two silent minutes”
    That is a short time indeed! Time enough to make a choice among possible actions, though. I’d choose the letter home, but hear more often of the bodies torn apart. “Short Fall” means something else than a season to me–idiomatically “to fall short” is to be inadequate or not enough–like needing more money or effort. Here, it guided me to think abouthow we don’t make those choices, how that keeps us safe though it changes nothing. Sorry if that wasn’t your intent, but it gave me pause through powerful images of war and peace making. And what a relief when winter comes.

    1. glad you picked up on the title – chosen for its many connotations – lack of funding for war for example and I think too of missiles falling short of their target

  6. After the Great War (WW1) nations hoped that there would be no repeat of it yet we can’t think that way but instead waste precious resources to be able to continue fighting somewhere on Earth almost continuously. What a failure mankind is.

  7. Beautiful- love your take on war and peace. The chaos that governs and creates our lives…bkm

  8. Wonderful in both sentiments and expression. Very thoughtful too.

    1. thank you Rosemary for appreciating the poem without dissecting the thoughts

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