LEST WE FORGET – Remembrance

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We travel in our hordes to see that place,

Wherein our loved ones fell without a trace.

Marked and blanketed by stones in white

Covering that great plain, that great site.

Farm hand boys and factory workers,

Friends from villages, schools and clubs.

Joined together, left their homeland

To lie decayed amongst the scrub.

Their voices call out still across that plain,

Feet are still heard thundering, inches gained.

Hearts were in their mouths, panting fast

And struggling, reached their enemies at last.

The bodies lay before them in the mud,

Mingled with the dirt, the crimson blood.

No time to mourn a brother or a friend,

Just pass them by, praying for the end.

Guns that deafened now are stilled,

Armies of boys and men were killed.

Some just memories to their kin,

Some carried pain through life like sin.

They gave us freedom, free to speak.

They made us strong not kept us weak.

We live in peace and fear no man.

They gave their lives so we just can.

copyright Tessa Thomson November 2020

Railway children of the Holocaust

The train no longer had those restful seats of velvet cushions

No proper seats at all in fact, just wood and iron partitions.

No windows with exotic views of lands we might discover,

Boarded up with painted planks. He cried “I want my mama.”


The train embarked upon its course; it left goodwill behind.

We struggled, standing packed in tight, each child in fearful mind.

Where was the loving parent now to hold the children close?

The rocking and the dark, spoke of the end we feared the most.


He held so tightly to my hands, the feeling was all gone.

His tears had wetted all my clothes; his eyes no longer shone.

Now disappeared was that sweet child: gone was that young boy.

Would we ever be the same, and where would we find joy?


The journey took its toll on all, us children of the night.

No warm and cuddly bed for us, no sleeping sound till light.

No room to lie on this hard floor, no space to rest at all

So close was each to everyone, no chance for us to fall.


Our legs were tired, our mouths were dry, but still we travelled on

Till light streaked through the boarded planks; the stars and moon were gone.

Daylight passed to night again and still we travelled forth.

Then suddenly we staggered as the engine changed its course.


The screech of brakes, the hiss of steam, the crash of iron rails,

We stopped at last. Our journeys end.  Each child a breath exhaled.

Was this the place where all our fears would end with tears of joy?

Through open doors the stench of death pushed dread into this boy.


The isolated vista, the smoke from chimneys tall,

Gathered in the morning light as fog about us all.

Hundreds of us stood in lines, fearful and afraid,

Clutching our belongings like soldiers on parade.


We walked to buildings long and black, deep in winters snow.

Leaving cases by the door we entered bowing low,

The tiny door gave no insight to what lay far beyond.

But all we craved was bed and rest and all our fears be gone.

Meeting with an Angel

“Are you ready?” spoke the angel as she gently took my hand,

As we walked along the water’s edge that mingled with the sand.

The sun was warming on my back; the sky was heavenly blue.

There was a kind of calmness that in life I rarely knew.

We moved along so swiftly that ages passed us by.

Scenes from my childhood flashed, like the twinkling of an eye.

Tragic moments mingled with those of happier times

Blurring all the images that were conjured in my mind.

Then the sky grew darker; the angel’s grip held fast.

The sand was whipped about us like sins from days gone past.

I felt the pain of doing wrong, of letting others down,

Of thinking only of myself and how could I gain ground.

We passed through darkness into light so bright my eyes were closed.

I opened them to see a space so large, so cold, I froze.

I shivered in the open space, my body now unclothed,

Ahead of me an open box: was this for my repose?

Again I felt the angel’s touch as she gently took my hand.

It’s time, she said, to make a choice, to make a better stand.

To live a life that’s worthy of the birthright that you own

Not waste your time in idleness but mark the things I’ve shown.

Be kinder to your friends and foes and turn the other cheek.

Be not so harsh with fools you meet but also not so meek.

Don’t wait for me to come back soon and take you by the hand.

And then, as if the light had gone, she swept along the sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleepless

It’s early but I’m wide awake, tossing in my bed.

A hundred unimportant things are jumbled in my head.

Trying to make sense of stuff, of things I cannot change,

Things long past and things not done, too late to rearrange.

Had I said something out of turn, something set to hurt?

Or someone else mistook the words and thought them much too curt.

Did my opinion mean that much, but wasn’t well expressed?

Or did I let them feel for once that I was unimpressed.

I try to be as thoughtful, as my friends expect I will.

But sometimes my own troubles seem to be a bitter pill.

To take on board another’s trials and give them even thought,

Is just too much, when all inside, I’m barren and distraught.

My life whirls on like some great train along a rocky pass.

Swaying back and forth from disaster then to farce.

Headlong through the darkened tunnels out into the light.

How I crave the peace and calm that follows restful nights.

Lying now alone and tired, aching arms and legs.

Crying out for sleep to come, my aged body begs.

Let the coil of life be gone and all its worries too.

Don’t look to me for answers now, for answers I’ll eschew.

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The Parting of the Ways

A fork in the road
A parting of ways

I thought when we arrived we’d want to stay for good

Although it’s true I couldn’t see a reason why we should

It’s not like we belong at all to this or any place

We’re passing through this time, a visit just in haste

 

The foreshore, the lighthouse, the rocks above the sea

The place with all its memories of how we thought to be

Our lives together for all time, joined as one in heart

But now we’ve come to separate, our lives are pulled apart

 

We took a vow to stay so true to all our values then

But life got in the way somehow and values couldn’t mend

The mess we caused, the pain and hurt to others and to us

Was just too much; outweighed what once was honesty, and trust

 

We didn’t mean for it to end but somehow lost our way

The things we thought we wanted, we let them slip away

We took each other lives and hearts and broke them into bits

Not caring why we did it, yet it’s something we can’t fix.

 

Here we stand beside the home we thought was ours for life

You to be my husband, me to be your wife

Sharing out the things we bought to make the house a home

Boxes filled with this and that and labelled Ben and Joan

 

We part as friends, at least I hope that’s how you feel as well

The arguments, the fighting, not living but sheer hell.

It’s over now, we start again to carve a different life

But you will always be my first and I your sometime wife.

 

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019

 

Stolen from the shore

A woman stood beside the sea, a dear child at her side,
I watched them as they gazed, from side to side and wide.
Their gazes fell around the shore but no one could they see,
But then they caught my watchful eye and caste a glance at me.

I turned to see if there might be a person at my back,
I looked along the sandy path and up the roadside track.
But there was no one I could see that looked a part of them,
No other person man or boy to hold their gaze and then,

I turned again towards the sea, but now the strand was clear.
No longer stood the woman and child held so dear.
I searched the sea and rolling foam; the waves that crashed on shore,
The pair who stood alone that day were gone forever more.

Many years have passed since then and many walks I’ve had,
Along that beach and on that strand, and often I’ve been sad
To wonder if I saw things right or did my eyes play tricks,
For surely it was the not the pair passing o’er the Styx.

Should I have questioned why they stood so lonely and forlorn?
Should I have wondered why the world held nought for them to mourn?
Or was it me imagining that I could be like them,
With death and thoughts of afterlife tugging at my hem.

Did that same mother and her child feel life could not be borne?
Did something happen in their lives from which their hearts were torn?
Did friends release them from their love and caste them both aside,
If so I understand that loss, and the wishing then to hide.

For I have stood in that same place and wondered what could be,
What did my life accomplish; what good was there to see.
What friends will praise my legacy after I am gone?
To tell the tales of how I lived and where my life went wrong.

But I shall live a few more years and count my blessings now,
Not take to swimming in the depths of life’s despairing jowls.
But think upon that mother and the dear child at her side,
And bless that sight for giving me a reason not to hide.

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019

Jealous of my mother

I’m sad I never knew her, her life was gone before,
She left me here so I could live alone, and sad what’s more.
I wanted through my life to die, as she had done, so young,
But here I am three score and ten, a hero still unsung.

I’m jealous that she died so young ‘cause people thought her grand,
So sad at such an early life, such loss to understand.
Her beauty never faded; her looks remained the same.
Her memory reinforced each day by family through her name.

I’m green with envy every time her name is mentioned still,
Throughout my life the tales of her became a bitter pill.
I never was quite good enough to reach her dizzy heights,
I tried so hard to be that one that people thought just might.

But here I stand imperfect; though hardened through the years.
Still looking for acceptance; still holding back the tears.
In death her short life rose, to standards hard to reach,
For mortals born with lumps of clay instead of angel’s feet.

I look back now to how my life was shaped by all this hate,
I wonder now if she had lived what would have been her fate.
Would she have lived the perfect life as I have tried to do,
Or failed and wished to die quite young as I had wanted to.

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019

The night visitor

The lady smiled as if she knew my heart was in despair,
The smile was warm; the eyes were bright; the feeling was of care.
It took a little time for me to act in similar vein.
It’s hard to break my woeful stare, and want to smile again.

But smile I did, and lingered there to see what next she’d do,
Watching from my corner seat and safely out of view.
She walked towards me holding out her hands, upturned and wide,
I stood and gazed in wonderment, not wanting now to hide.

Her head was crowned with shining light, her clothes a gentle blue,
Her manner seemed to bring to mind a person I once knew.
She seemed to glide towards me then and take my hands in hers,
A fear, a sudden shake in me; was this how death knell stirs?

I touched her hands, she drew me near I thought to say a word,
But no words came. Yet still I felt a hundred words were heard.
I felt my heart just quicken then, my pain was almost gone.
The light behind her head was bright, and angels sang their song.

And then I woke inside my room; the light was morning time,
The pain and hurt I’d felt for months had lifted. I felt fine.
My prayers were answered in a way I never thought could be:
The Virgin Mary heard my cries and came at night to me.

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019

Demons of the past

When I am old and past my best and friends have gone before,
Will I sit back and think upon a life that took on more
Than anyone who knew my start, could reasonably assure?

My start in life was well planned out before my birth was near,
I wouldn’t choose the start I had: it cost me very dear.
But cards are dealt and stars aligned and futures fixed; that’s clear.

I didn’t know how it would be: the struggles I would find,
The times when life took on the guise of madness of some kind,
Of drifting closer to the edge, of loosening my mind.

I fought some demons at the start but learned to live at ease,
By treating them as friends or foes and hoping they would cease
To bother me, as I grew up and searched for inner peace.

Peace from nights of waking up sweating and afraid,
Crying softly in my bed, trying to be brave,
Hoping I could conquer fears and face the future saved.

The years went by, the pain was eased in part by loving friends:
People who along the way were willing just to bend
Whichever way was right for me to help my body mend.

But there were times when even they grew tired of helping out:
When I would rage against their love and fight and scream and shout
And leave them feeling hurt and wondering what’s it all about.

“What’s it all about?” they cried “Why can’t she be at peace?”
They couldn’t understand, the struggles never cease
That even though you look okay, your mind is ill at ease.

The illness isn’t like an arm, that’s broken in a fall.
You see and hear things differently or sometimes not at all.
Your mind is like a human shoal that fishermen might trawl.

You drag yourself around your life adjusting to the pain,
Never understanding why the illness has your name
But hope lies close for those like me whose spirits never wain.

I’m hoping that the time shall pass when I no longer share
My dwindling life with demons; the fears no longer there.
But lie content and satisfied with all that I have dared.

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019

A Toss of the coin

I said you’re rich, she said I’m not, I said you surely are,
For one thing I’m on benefits: save money in a jar.
On Friday nights we sit around the tiny kitchen table,
Whilst I eek out what’s left in jars to live on, if we’re able.

You have a house you own I said, a place to lay your head,
Not thinking you’ll be moved sometime to find another bed.
You send your children off to school with lunch packs in their hands,
Mine wait in line for free school meals which they don’t understand.

I wait outside the food bank store thinking what I need,
But hoping just to find some food to give my kids for tea.
It’s rarely that I find enough to feed myself as well,
But hope that making out I eat, the kids can never tell.

I never wished to live like this, I never thought that far,
But circumstances changed my life and this is where we are.
So don’t look down on me and say she bought it on herself,
But rather thank your lucky stars for home, and health and wealth.

Copyright Tessa Thomson 2019