Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Day - #Gallipoli100

Welcome to my blog! Thank you for visiting me in my little corner of the web!

It's ANZAC day here in New Zealand and all over the country people are commemorating 100 years since our soldiers landed in Gallipoli, Turkey, many of whom went on to lose their lives.

In keeping with this, I thought it appropriate to share a poem I wrote back in 2010. The original idea of this poem was to make a picture book out of it, but once the poem was finished I decided it didn't have quite the right tone for a picture book. But one day, it may go in the front of a novel I have the bare bones of in my head. One day ... but I've got lots of other books to write first ...

There's a great big box in Nan's wardrobe
I wonder what's inside?
Maybe there's ancient treasures,
or just a place for spiders to hide?

It's covered in dust and cobwebs
the lid has been shut with tape
it's old and squashed and dented
and somewhat bent out of shape.

It smells just a little bit musty
there's a name printed on it in blue
I wonder what the box contains?
because really, I haven't a clue.

The carton is made of thick cardboard
the name on the side is "J. Snead"
the cardboard is squashed at the corner
the name is a mystery indeed.

Curiosity overwhelms me
so I pick at the tape on the lid
I'll have a quick peek then tape it back up
and no one will know what I did.

The tape rips off and I quickly peep in
but there's nothing exciting to see
just piled and piles of scrap paper bits
that's of no importance to me.

I shouldn't have looked so I tape it back up
but oh no! the tape will not stick!
the dust and the cobwebs have stuck to the tape
in desperation, I give it a lick.

The dust and the cobwebs have stuck to my tongue
the dust up my nose makes me sneeze
the dust and the cobwebs have stuck in my throat,
I'm coughing and starting to wheeze.

I can hear footsteps just down the hall
the flap on the box won't stay down;
Nan's face appears at the wardrobe,
she looks down at me with a frown.

"That box has been there for 65 years,
it's full of my memories and treasures.
Joe's uniform is there, and letters,
reminders of long-ago pleasures.

See, have a look, come and sit next to me
and I'll show you what everything is;
everything in here reminds me of Joe -
it's a memorial box, so it is.

I once had a brother, Joseph Snead
he was seven years older than me,
he went off to war with all the young men
many died, so we could be free.

He sent me some letters from war zones
he wrote to me near every week
telling me of fighting adventures
and sleeping in a trench by a creek.

Then they all stopped - there was nothing
and then came the knock at the door -
a telegram from the war office
said Joe wasn't with us any more.

Missing in action they told us,
but Mum wouldn't believe Joe was dead.
She kept on insisting they'd find him
but we got sent his belongings instead.

I got to keep his spare uniform
it's right here, down deep in this box.
I also kept all of those letters
and his hat, and his military socks.

It made me too sad to look at it
so I lovingly hid it away;
for 65 years it has sat in the box
and here is it going to stay.

The letters are tattered and ripped now,
they're yellow and fragile with age.
I've even got stored here his favourite book
but it's missing the very first page."

Nan stops talking and wipes at her eyes
then pushes the box back away
back deep in the wardrobe, way out of sight
"and that's where my memories will stay.

War doesn't do anyone any good
we just lose the ones that we love
Uncles, our brothers, our fathers, our sons
they're no up in heaven above.

I'm an old lady, I've lived a long time
and I've got just one piece of advice:
only fight for things that you truly believe
because all fights mean a sacrifice."

The Nan got up and she hurried away
back to her chair in the sun
I closed up the cupboard and quickly crept out
feeling guilty about what I'd done.

1915 Gallipoli, Turkey
They shall not grow old
as we that are left grow old;
age shall not weary them, nor
the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning,
we will remember them.
Lest we forget.

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