Poetry

November 12, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Guillaume Baviere photo

 

By

Penn Kemp

 

 

 

The Stand of Oak

 

 

Battle’s devastation cut down men and oaks,

leaving Vimy Ridge bare from ’16 till now.

But one veteran sent a few acorns to Canada

 

and raised a grove memento. Now these trees

will stand as metaphor for endurance, mingled

roots living on in lieu of the soldiers who fell.

 

Now our Canadian branches will be returning

home to be grafted on European oak saplings.

They’ll respond to wind in the crackling Fall.

 

These oaks will listen through trembling roots

to news that travels in the near neighbourwood:

subtle climate shiftings from drought to deluge.

 

The lobed leaves that open to embrace sun, to

soak in rain: they will know a longer time we

can only imagine, knowing history’s record.

 

This copse you plant now may not remember

a war a century past though it could realize its

own long span to last the whole millennium.

 

The oaks you plant on Vimy Ridge will not be

thinking of men today or ever: their work is in

attending to the rise from heartwood out to leaf.

 

These oaks may not thank you personally but

their presence is gratitude enough, is witness.

Thriving, they will return life to Vimy Ridge.

 

In the slow dream of trees may the men awake

who died here. May they be recalled by name

in their prime, rising as hope from desolation.

 

 

 

 

 

Mary McDonald photo

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp is an activist Canadian poet, playwright and editor.  Her latest works are Local Heroes, and the forthcoming Fox Haunts. Recent books include Barbaric Cultural Practice and two anthologies edited, Women and Multimedia and Performing Women. See www.pennkemp.weebly.com and riverrevery.ca.

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