Sarah James

Poet

This is my second letter to the unknown soldier/tommy. My first letter was one of gratitude and recognition of the sacrifices made for the good of others. This letter was sparked by my horror at what is happening in Gaza (also Ukraine and other areas across the world where conflict still rages). One hundred years after the 'war to end all wars', what would those who lost their lives then make of the world now? Would they still feel it something worth fighting for?

Sarah James

Poet

Dear Tommy,

This week They shelled a school,
killing refugees and children in Gaza.
Would the fleshed you turn to bronze
on hearing? One hundred years, just
a small mouthful to whatever it is
that still turns Them to war as easily
as Us putting hands together to pray,
or walk arm in arm along a path,
then cross a field. Whatever it is
that makes handing Them arms
as easy as gifting toys to children.
All flowers here now are poppies:
black hearts in a rush of red.
The same bright red that sang
in those children swinging arms
and legs towards family, friends, play
that last morning. This red is not
the colour of Their blood. Their blood
is the rust brown of metal kept in use
too long. The same rust-drawn metal
as the Lee-Enfield, the Vickers,
all those guns that you thought
would surely be hung up for good.
Tonight, survivors crayon them
into Their pictures of tomorrow.

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