Raising John Smith

By what chance are we remembered by strangers, who speak our name beyond our life?


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I have carried your cast memory
for nearly thirty years from house to house.
The distance it has travelled since your death
perhaps further than your range in life.

You were loved
the finely raised words declare
 ‘Trustee & Class Leader of this Church, &
for 70 years Teacher in The Sunday School’.
You never died, but ‘fell asleep’
in your eighty-seventh year
the second of The First World War.
In that tumescence of unexpected loss
the congregation rendered their largesse
to melt copper, soft as your nature,
and meld it to the brittleness of tin.
For weakness properly enforced
forms the harder metal, bronze –
but how many you had strengthened
would feel the harsher bite of steel?

With the years belief waned
men were less in union with the land
the Estate’s private Chapel emptied,
slowly decayed, and was demolished.
In a scrap yard, half hidden in a skip,
rising from the imbroglio was ‘John Smith.’
‘What’s that?’ I asked – ‘A fiver’ the reply
and with that New Year’s introduction
I bought a lost community’s talisman –
a massive bronze memorial plaque.

This low cost resurrection will long outlast my flesh
displaying incorruptible words, cast – ironically,
at the melting point of unchallenged delusion.

Imbroglio            1) a confused or perplexing political or interpersonal siuation
                                    2) confused heap or jumble

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