Sometimes I Wish …

© Leonie Parker

Winner, 2015 ‘Oracles of the Bush’ – ANZAC Theme Section, Tenterfield NSW.

My grandad’s wartime medals disappeared one long gone day.
I guess some family member grabbed them when he passed away.
Whenever I see medals in an an op shop anywhere
I wonder if they’re Grandad’s, but I don’t think he would care.

He never put much store in ‘things’, that’s what he always said.
He kept them in an old tobacco tin beneath his bed.
While others wore them proudly Grandad always bucked the trend,
was scathing of their pompousness right to the bitter end.

He never marched on Anzac Day though I think he was there,
he never talked about it so I never was aware
of just what he had suffered or how many friends he’d lost,
and if I asked he’d only say, “Too many, to my cost.”

I know he spent some time in France, he spoke a word or two,
would often greet me with a short “Comment appelez-vous”,
and though I studied French at school (some fifty years ago),
that little phrase of his is still the only one I know.

Whenever I’d ask questions he’d distract me with a joke,
like many others of his time he was the sort of bloke
whose dinner conversation would be safe for little ears
and if they talked about ‘the war’ it was just with their peers.

I think he tried to teach me that we shouldn’t worship war.
He was a man before his time, I wish that there were more.
He blamed the many leaders of the world for all the strife
but I was far too young to understand his view of life.

I think that it would sadden him to see we haven’t learned.
I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like the way the world has turned.
His generation’s sacrifice was meant to see war gone.
He’d be so disappointed that it’s all still going on.

He’d shake his head to see us sending emails by the ton
extolling brave combatants of a war that can’t be won.
Although he’s gone these many years I still can hear his voice.
He always said that peace on earth in truth comes down to choice.

But poets write their poetry, and singers sing their songs.
A new crop of world leaders talk of heroes righting wrongs
and there can be no winners though they try to tell us so.
Sometimes I wish we’d all join hands and just refuse to go.

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