Gaps and silence – Jenny Hammond

Jenny Hammond Oxford Stanza Two

Jenny Hammond
Oxford Stanza Two

Gaps and silence

And Harry too died at Gallipoli

with all the rest, caught by a sniper’s

bullet as he was sending a signal.

Mown down like blades of grass,

all of them, and they lie there still

on the stony treeless hills, the Johnies

with the Mehmets, bones tangled together,

dreams of manhood blown away

like leaves in a puff of wind. Thousands

of leaves, a hundred thousand names,

unknown and unremembered now,

who once were special to mothers and sisters.

Amabel, Margery, Zeynep, Meriyem,


You know those photographs, formal,

unsmiling, so of their time, family

groups from Britain maybe, or Turkey

or the Antipodes, recording an absence

in clamorous silence like a gap in the teeth

or in other pictures a presence in uniform

already turned into a ghost.

But Harry the Scientist had planted a sapling.

Watered and nourished until it grew tall,

it flourished and filled the gap of his absence

and the wind in its branches broke the silence:

technetium, promethium, hafnium, rhenium

© Jenny Hammond, October 2015

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