A Bugler’s Remembrance
‘Sergeant Robert Bellas, Private John Briggs, Private John Brown’
The vicar’s voice punctuates the still morning air.
Dark figures surround the war memorial on frosted ground.
Awaiting Bell’s toll and my bugle to sound.
‘Private Frederick Dent, Corporal Cornelius Hayhurst, Sergeant Stephen Hayhurst’
I grasp the tubing tightly,
Enclose the freezing mouthpiece between my lips and gently push warm air into the bugle,
Knowing the time is near.
‘Private William James, Seaman John James, Private Lowther L Kitching’
Such a long list from a small rural community,
Each name a family’s grief, an empty chair at each celebration, dark shadow over a generation.
‘Major Ronald A Markham, Private Thomas Ostle, Second Lieutenant Joseph Powley, Corporal John P Regan’
The trees are bare,
Stark against the blue sky,
Their covering fallen on the cold ground.
‘Private Matthew Shaw, Private John Threlkeld, Private Tom Wilkinson.’
A crow caws, a dog barks and I ready.
Stood to attention, bugle poised,
Waiting the familiar words.
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
Deep breath in,
Cold metal on warm lips.
Concentrate, no slips.
‘We will remember them’
The world is still,
Last Post emerges into the frosty air,
A haunting reminder of those who aren’t there.
Ian Butterworth 2016