Memorial Day

"Unnoticed, he blends into the grey park bench,
eyes clouded and watering,
permanent tears for friends lost in a trench
not quite enough of a life-time ago.
Will anyone acknowledge him? 
Smile at him? Say hello?
How many people walk past without seeing?
Are they afraid to take a look 
at their future being?
Can see past hands on a walking cane, shaking,
which once held arms straight, which killed
as he dreamed of his mother holding him
close in a muddy field in France, dug in, 
his only perspective – the sky – looking up,
imagining his Victoria Cross moment, 
which never came.
His history has died with those he has loved:
he exists alone now, his life stored in his head,
musty albums in an abandoned attic.
His film is ending, subtitles about to roll,
last moments of anticipation, will his story change 
before the last curtain call?
Was he the star of his own show, his life?
Would that he had been so invisible then, 
in that giant gutter, repelling the end
but now the magnet has turned, 
death - an indecisive friend.
Ninety odd birthday's leave a stuttering heart 
and a once-red poppy, grey.
On a bench, sad fingers trace the brass 
in which his wife's name is interred
hearing aid off so his sweetheart's voice
can be clearly heard.
As there will be no 'hello' today.
That's all he wants. 
A quiet hello.
So he knows he's not already a ghost."

Sarah Heath ~ 2016

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