This is an example of a haibun, following on from yesterday’s post. The eldest (tallest) daughter is my grandmother. She isn’t holding his hand, as mentioned in the poem, but it is the last photograph. For more information see The Carus Brothers at War (Part 1), or The Carus Brothers at War (Part 2) or The Carus Brothers at War (Part 3).
It was first published in The Haibun Journal April 2022.
in it my grandma holds
a soldier’s hand
In 1920 the Great War was over, but the grieving continued. The British Army exhumed four unidentified bodies from the major battle areas of the Great War. After four years of fighting there was no shortage of choice. There are differing stories about the secretive process, and nobody knows exactly what happened. However, we do know that on the night of 7th November 1920, a General, either blindfolded, or with his eyes closed, selected one of them.
That body became the most celebrated British soldier of the war – the Unknown Warrior. He lies in Westminster Abbey – the only tombstone in the Abbey where nobody is allowed to walk. He is buried with a Crusader’s sword, a gift from the King, in a coffin made from an oak tree that once grew at Hampton Court. The Americans gave him the Medal of Honor and, in 2020, his hundredth anniversary, the Poet Laureate wrote a poem for him.
The remaining three were reburied by the roadside under cover of darkness. They were eventually found by a Grave Registration Unit and moved to a cemetery, as were thousands of other wayside graves. For them, there was no grand ceremony, just a stone marked, like thousands of others, “Known unto God”.
a poppy cross
each year her eyes filled up
two minutes pass
Simon, thank you for this. it is so beautifully done. So informative and so gut wrenching. I hope you are very proud. xo
Thank you. 🙂
Beautifully, sensitively, done
Thank you Derrick.
Those are beautiful and powerful haibun, Quercus. You have soul. Thank you.
🙂 Thank you.
Powerful! Both words and images. I was taken with the way both little girls had their arms folded across their chest. Do you think they were instructed to pose that way?
I imagine they were. 🙂
I saw that, too Laurie – I think they must have been.
This is Jodie. Don’t know why I am anonymous.
It sometimes happens to Derrick too. Not sure why.
This is Jodie. I don’t know why I am anonymous
Not sure what causes it, but pleased to see you managed to get your name back.
A fine example.