Marching Past


In the lean 1950s, I watched them marching by;

Touched by frosty sun, the medals still shone

As an adult, I polished and polished, to no avail

The shine on my father’s medals had gone.

A child, I stood with my mother in Whitehall

Waiting and shuffling my feet

Mum bought me a milk chocolate clock

So I could nibble something sweet.

Years later I’d buy hot chestnuts for my children

They’d say ‘There’s Grandpa!’ as he passed

He was seventy and more but never missed the parade,

It was his way of holding fast.

He always marched with Oxford and St George’s

Named for St George-in-the-East

The  club which brought light to East End children,

And offered them a cultural feast.

He also went to Remembrance Day in Hendon,

Much later, when he was ninety or so,

A carer then would push his wheelchair

But still, every year he would go.

I used Duraglit for copper, on the medals

An assignment which I found tough

Because the metal showed signs of thinning

And Dad said they still weren’t bright enough.

Some time after he died, the medals went missing.

My sister and I were beside ourselves

But they turned up in the care home’s safe

Where they’d fallen behind some shelves.

Now I no longer stand on the pavement

But watch the parade on BBC

The ex-servicemen and women

Swing their arms so dauntlessly,

Wars, conflicts, tensions have not ceased.

The bands play tunes from World War One

Lest we forget. But we remember, in the morning,

And ‘at the going down of the sun.’

13  November 2016

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