Remembrance Sunday: Halifax and Blackshaw Head
As The Last Post sounds
A multi-coloured caterpillar stands to attention
Its rain-booted feet silent and still.
Above it towers the church, proud of her coat of black grime
Stares with unseeing eyes at the vast hills that encroach upon her
Threatening to overcome her once dominant position.
Rain pours from the sky and my eyes
As ‘Jerusalem’ resounds as if in irony –
“England’s green and pleasant land.”
Out of the rain now
Into the vast echo chamber punctuated with blood-red bullet points
As a thousand people gather to sing, to cry, to remember
Not just the fallen
But the damaged, in this, the war to end all wars.
As I leave the church the sun peeks out from behind her shroud
And a rainbow arches through the sky
Coming to rest directly over the black tower
In the dark of the evening
A beacon is lit high on a remote hilltop
Here, handbells ring out from a tent
Where poppy quilts and paper gravestones bump elbows with
Hot soup tureens and tea cups. Fussy toddlers and excited canines
Join the nationwide remembrance.
Outside, high above me, in a silent night
The spirits of the fallen soldiers
Shimmer in a cloudless sky,
Remembered but not forgotten.
In honour of Giles Sunderland (1886-1916) a distant relative of mine, who lived in the village of Blackshaw Head, near Halifax, Yorkshire.