© Jim Kent

Winner, 2017 ‘The Kembla Flame’, Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW.

A gravel road now rarely used, an avenue of trees,
a stream with little cataracts that bubble, dance and tease –
a clearing small beside the track in peaceful solitude,
forever there the memories that time cannot exclude.

A monument of granite grey, a guardian of stone
the soldier standing high on top, a sentinel alone
facing to the rising sun, the birth of each new dawn
of freedom won through battles fought by men to duty sworn.

Shaded by an ancient pine once seed from Turkish shore,
in mem’ry of the fallen dead in Anzac’s bloody war,
surrounded by a fence of chain, a little patch of grass,
rosemary and rambling rose,– the wandering cattle pass.

The breezes whisper in the trees, a soft and soulful air
teasing through the branch high the murm’ring cockies share,
the wattle on the hills beyond a golden haze in spring,
in branches low the Fairy Wrens flit and flirt and sing.

There’s names inscribed on ev’ry side, by some a little cross,
they paid the Supreme Sacrifice, our Nations tragic loss,
they faced a foe on foreign shores, where brave in battle fall –
district men who marched with pride responding to The Call.

Nearby a hall with rusting roof and toilets down the back,
once a happy, laughing place now off the beaten track,–
in need of paint, of sad neglect, a relic from the past,
but ling’ring still the memories for there the die was cast.

A wagtail teases on the fence, a magpie’s warbled song,
A Peewee calls in strident voice as shadow shift along
drifting with the sunbeams, silent sentinels of day
along the nearby forest edge the wallabies at play

Church and hall, – they gathered there, families friends and more,
to farewell brave young district men before they marched to war,
to pray for those who were away, – amid a vale of tears
mourn the boys who’d not return, who’d not grow old in years.

Quietly now the seasons pass until that early morn
on each April Anzac Day a bugler wakes the dawn,
by cenotaph the gathering folk for they do not forget
the brave, the young, the fallen who the  foe  in battle met.

The waking curlew calls a challenge to the day,
through the rising mists of morning little sunbeams play,
the ghostly shades of fallen brave who age does not condemn, –
years now past and ever more, we will remember them.

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