This poem was inspired by a family photograph of my paternal grandfather, a major in the Middlesex Regiment, escorting the Queen Mother along a line of his soldiers in July 1940.
This first appeared as winner of the poetry section of Southampton Writing Buddies first anniversary anthology, Wordfall, published in 2011.
So here is the photograph .....
|© Jacqueline Pye|
The Parade, 1940
The stout man in khaki has a smile as wide as this,
Strutting, proud, with medals on his chest.
These are my men.
Elizabeth, charming, greets one in every four.
The man in khaki follows, hands by sides,
Two steps behind.
Harry Baggins, Ma'am. He lost his hand in Caen.
Thank you, Harry; the King and I salute your bravery.
An honour, Ma'am.
A camera flashes.
But now the line of men is not quite straight;
He glares at those he sees are out of true.
They can't stand still.
And so she's reached the end of the parade -
She'll soon forget the details of today.
They won't forget.
* * * * *
* * * * *
That photo, now so old, has hardly faded,
Unlike the line of men with heads held high -
They've all gone now.
The stout man no longer wears his major's cap;
He dozes in a chair while young girls fuss.
That's me, he says.
We know, they tell the major, that one's you.
Aren't you real smart, the uniform and all.
Then he's asleep.
© Jacqueline Pye 2010