Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Center Square

Today is Veterans day, aka Remembrance Day, aka Armistice Day.

Everyone else is posting a copy of In Flanders Fields. I shall therefore be different.

Center Square
by Martha Keller (1940)

Though every town has a marble stone
Or musketry for a monument,
Where are the names of the dead and gone?
Where is a sign of the way they went?

A list of name of a plaque of brass,
Or post, or pillar or palisade,
Are all that is left but a grave and grass
And a flag where even the colors fade.

We mark the center of every square
With a cannon ball or a nest of guns.
But where are the men who fired them? Where
Are They? And their sons? And their children's sons?

A sailor handling a coil of rope,
A horseman holding a saber high,
In any town, on a sunny slope,
Are all they now are remembered by.

When prayers are spoken, and tears are dried,
And grief give over, and hummocks heal-
What is there left of the men who died?
Sign and signature? Hand and seal.

Except in the habit of being free,
Except in the manner of life we know,
There's no reminder to hear or see
Of those determined to have it so.

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