He was gone in our third teenage winter. The ground was ice-covered, and the streets were deserted, and snow clung to the public statues, and more than Angels that day with wings; The mercury froze before midday, and the usual instruments of planting were replaced by motorised teeth, and the frozen tears on stone figurines mimicked those who attended that day.
He had suffered no illness, passion was his only ache, to renew the evergreen, and that more than our rivers would run free, and mourning prayers would be replaced with morning songs.
His death now maintained in poems like this, and those who pray on their knees,
His last afternoon was spent with us, there were four of us then and we were unprepared for death’s song,
A day of nurses and fabricated rumours followed – to justify the shot in the back, inventing a gun battle that involved one bullet, one round.
His loved ones were in anguish through hours of worry. It was difficult and long, and we didn’t really belong there we knew, but in grief, allowed,
But even in death, in what we had shared before, we were bound.
The tabloids accumulated until thrown into wastebins in frustration, and a grieved, angered silence took hold,
The latter though wasn’t all his loved one’s, and more that enough running through their minds, and seen when they looked our way if truth be told.
But, what it was didn’t matter, because we had failed him, and knew in a sense we’d failed them, and for them nothing would ever be the same,
And while we knew he’d stay gold, we wouldn’t, and like them we’d grow old, carrying that day with us.
That day affected them so much, and did the same to us, but not something we could say to them, after all it was their hands that flailed, they who wailed,
What we had was anger, hate, because he was our mate.
And now he sits among a hundred thousand others at a Valhallian table, listening to the reflections of a hundred thousand more patriots – who sit unhappily – talking of greed, and change, and betrayal.
All of them prisoners of conscience, and if they were able – Oh, if only.
And no words can eloquently address those fallen braves.
Yet, see they do with clarity, those who sold the water, the trees, and the green, and what was believed, for their own benefits, for money, and an unpatriotic shame.
Dishonest brokers – nothing more, in government corridors one Friday, and families, their sufferings, unfairly compounded. A border cemented, and patriots demented at what turned out to be an unpatriot game,
Which is why they refuse to drink mead.
Very few will think of them this day, or our friend, our comrade, but we will, and I go to that place to join the others, to visit him a while,
A place with a stone pillow engraved with his name, and well I remember the day he was placed there was a dark cold one.
He was gone in our third teenage winter, the ground was ice-covered, the streets deserted, and snow clung to the public statues, and more than Angels that day had wings;
The mercury froze before midday and the usual instruments of planting were replaced by motorised teeth, and the frozen tears on the stone figurines mimicked those who attended that day. He had suffered no illness, passion was his only ache, to renew the evergreen, and that more than our rivers would run free.
We all ran away that day, from them, trying to avoid getting stopped, and laughed as we did.
He was never a great runner, and even when running home from primary school can recall he wasn’t fast, and was usually the last to reach the street, and the old lamp. That’s why we called him Wings, a childhood joke, nothing more, but a nickname all the same, I mean we were just kids, you know.
When the shot rang out, because he was behind us, we didn’t know he’d been hit, and kept running – straight into the next army patrol, and they took us back to where he lay. There was a lot of blood, and Wings, the ground around him, was damp, not something we ever forgot, and the anger grew as we grew old, and everytime I see snow, I think of him. He was just a kid, he still is, Wings stayed gold..
JS Larkin 2022
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