THE BENEFIT OF MATURITY
He took me to Dunkirk and showed me graves where the young men lay.
I was unmoved. I didn’t know them. I was bored and had nothing to say.
I didn’t want to be there; I wanted a deck-chair. I was fresh out of school.
I didn’t want to search; to reach in, to breach the story. I was a child fool.
I was fifteen and how little did it mean to be told of the death of millions.
I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to know and be upset about the minions
who’d followed their leaders into the whole of the gore that was war on Earth.
There was fun to be had; I was mad at the intrusion of the allusion of Death.
Death wasn’t recognizable in the rows of graves; Death didn’t touch my heart.
Death meant numbers not people; white rows of crosses not folks torn apart.
I didn’t imagine mothers or sisters or brothers in their heart-rending separation.
I saw what I was missing in my vacation. The sun and sea and my recreation!
I grew old and went to Thailand and the Philippines where the young men lay.
The graves were beautiful in a manicured way. This time too I’d nothing to say.
My tears ran; I felt so bad when a small plaque said, ‘Found you at last, Dad’.
In my fifties I felt as a daughter, a mother, a sister, a wife and I was deeply sad.
In Manila the hillside was scenic; the land of turmoil now serenely quiescent.
Attendees looked after the boys’ resting place. It was warmly pleasant.
Man is the author of war; God is the author of peace, read the words on a wall.
But my head couldn’t embrace the meaning or understand that platitude at all.
Each young life was spent in an untimely manner, though so newly fledged.
Each grave was sad in its own way, with its occupant and its story plainly edged
in grief. Each rendered life for his flag, his kinsmen and his homeland security,
but I hadn’t seen the terror or the horror of loss without the benefit of maturity.
ABOUT DOROTHY TAYLOR