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