Spring

Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
while here the TV spits into my room
faster than bullets, the same old news
that some far-flung corner of a foreign field
is now sown with blood, with shrapnel, and with loss
that it’s worth the sacrifice
worth the cost
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom.
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
and the lions, led by media-savvy donkeys
are digging in for the long haul
for the big push. For you, for me, for freedom.
For whatever the story is this week.
Some box-fresh spin
wrought out of Kevlar, rescued from dust
one that makes it worth the sacrifice
worth the cost
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
and the embedded reporter, mole-blind,
assures us that morale is high
there was turkey for Xmas
there’ll be bunting for the Jubilee
everyone’s here to do a job.
He signs off from the satellite phone
with a soundbite about sacrifice
a nod towards loss
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
with the lengthening days the ash buds open
and the minister, caught between engagements,
pauses before the cameras
to say we will always remember them
forgets their names before he sinks into his limousine
but made sure to say
something appropriate about sacrifice
duly solemn about loss
and outside, the hawthorn is in bloom.
Outside, the hawthorn is in bloom
the willow glows with catkin gold
the dog-rose has burst into life
with the lengthening days the ash buds open
and we wait.
We wait for rains that don’t yet come
while families, their world forever blasted out of true,
wish for ruined ghosts to come marching through
the door, all present and correct
large as life and home for tea
to haul them out of this wasteland of grief
where there are no words
where no words will do.
Sacrifice? doesn’t begin to cover it.
And the rains?
They’ll come, or they won’t come.
Spring will blossom into summer
the ash spread its leaves toward the sun
and pain shrinks to a small constant
stone lodged tight by the heart
while we watch the willow green
and then the brave leaves tumble.
‘Til spring comes round again
and, turning from the TV burble,
I look out of my window and see
outside, the soft white flowers
of the hawthorn coming
once more into bloom.
© Steve Pottinger

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