Poetry

Daily Prompt – Opposite Day

Opposite Day

Today – a poem. This is one a wrote for uni but it never made the grade. It is a memoir poem. Enjoy. 🙂

Bullet and Rose

You have never seen darkness

until it is night on a small boat

in the middle of the sea.

The water is inky black

moving sinuously as a snake

caught under a sheet of midnight.

White peaks contrast to the stygian deep.

 

All I can hear is rhythmic slapping

and banging of water

as it moves against the bow.

No engine. The ropes

thud against the taut sails

and I even feel a rhythm in the wind.

The sea is lifted in the breeze and splashes me softly.

I taste salt.

The cold is numbing but somehow comforting.

Wrapped in jumpers and waterproofs

I watch the horizon. Waiting.

The smells of the sea fill me.

Salt and more. Like trips, long forgotten,

with pails and spades: sand and seaweed.

To me the sea smells alive, and tonight

it appears to be a living breathing thing.

The wind blows and for a moment

the clouds clear and we are sailing through stars

as they reflect on the inky water.

Then they are gone.

I look down again at my carefully constructed rose and wait.

 

Fold, tear, fold, crease, unfold.

Slowly in my hand the flower took shape;

Silver and gold and glitter and sparkle

in the running lights.

So pretty, yet nothing more than sweet wrappers.

Until finally a rose,

beautiful in its imperfection

and heavy in its emotion, sat in my palm.

No scissors have touched it;

irregular petals reveal torn edges,

and its base is crudely twisted to hold the flower.

Looking up I stare into the night

 

Then I see it. The lights. But I’m confused.

It sits like a barnacle on a hull.

Not some beautiful place of remembrance

but an industrial monstrosity.

Sadness spills out of me.

 

As a child I remember a brass cylinder.

I loved this trinket sitting on the pine dresser.

Every year it would get polished

and once I was old enough it became my job.

I still remember taking the dull metal

and smearing the white thick liquid on and waiting,

only to wipe it off and reveal a perfect shine.

I loved the smell, acrid and tangy.

Brassy. And I remember the story. Fred.

 

I suppose he would have been my great-uncle,

but I just called him Fred.

Stories of his bravery, staying behind,

sacrificing himself for others.

A sniper.  A soldier.

And in my childish hand a bullet casing.

To this day I don’t know where the bullet came from,

just that it was inexorably linked

in my childish mind to Fred.

I can still feel its brassy coldness in my hands

and the love in my heart.

 

Now, older, I sit

on the hard wood of the boat

and look across at Dunkirk.

The stories of bravery and of sacrifice,

of ordinary people saving those trapped

in boats no bigger than this.

So I take my rose and childhood memories

and place them gently onto the black,

my breath catching as the cold clutches my hand.

 

I watch as it glitters and glints with running lights

and just for a moment it floats among the stars

until it slips beneath the waves.

 

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