I appreciate that this is a little late for the Nov 11th memorial service but I thought I’d share it anyway. It’s about the magnitude of loss.
ANY NAME YOU COULD POSSIBLY THINK OF.
– Edinburgh Castle War Memorial, 1998.
First published in The Amnesty International Anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.
I strolled around the sombre hall,
Flicking through dusty old books.
There were books as big as tables,
All with foreign names on them:
Ypres, Somme, Gallipoli, Dardenelles…
Above the books were banners;
Fading regimental colours
That, even still, smelled of gun grease blood.
Inside the books, were the names of men and women.
But mostly men.
Hundreds and thousands of men’s names.
Outside, under a cold November sunset,
I stood on the battlements and lit a cigarette.
I bet, I thought to myself,
That any name you could possibly think of,
Would be in one of those books.