James Henry Graydon (1895-1917)

They say you die twice.
First, when you sank into Ypres mud;
then, when they stopped talking about you.

This week, they took down the Memorial;
mentioned the Pals on local news,
started the footings on a block of flats.

I walked past the meshed security screens
after the pub; went back to stare at the space
where the list once stood. I remembered

the Bateman’s; looked down Sharp Street
and could see their house. Mina yelling
at her girls playing hopscotch on chalked flags,

her boys passing a ball under street lamps
a Jack Harrison dummy at the Boulevard.
Dad would sit on the doorstep in his vest

rolling cigarettes. There were washing
days when the street would be full of sheets
to duck under. Kitchener took them all away

to tramp through the winters, hear the rattling
of tins, for their names to be etched in wood.
Will they put the list back? Talk about them again.

From Sharp Street, Wrecking Ball Press

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