In the shivering hush between bugle calls the dead
outnumber us – apparitions risen at the ebb of night,
faces smooth as those staring from silver-gelatin
photographs, imagined from crumbling letters,
oft-told stories, summoned by a hand’s caress;
not always done-up in a uniform, so many swamped
by history’s scarlet waves, not always loved or good
or brave or noble, no more than we who muster
on barricaded roads by stones mortared against
forgetting to wait for a bugle to rally the sun.
And with its long parting note they vanish; they
have no need of us, never older, neither wearied
nor condemned, and every year on bitter mornings
in the heart of an old gold town – we remember them.
B N Oakman