Poppies fleck the fields of Flanders mud,
their scarlet dashes dotting red the shell-churned brownscape,
little moments of vitality amidst morass of death,
standing tall in a land where none dare stand at all.
Trees felled, birdsong stilled, bodies threaded on the wire;
only the poppies wave now, not in surrender but recall,
remembrancing the Fallen and reminding us that
all blood spills the same from every human vein.
And at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day
as we honour with regret again the dead of every war
and remember that strange moment now 100 years ago
when a whole continent drew exhausted breath
we pray the red that flecked the Flanders mud,
wire-draped cadavers, blast-bared trees and the rest,
was somehow Calvary and not just another human hell.
Here bled the Christ and here weeps God as well.
© Rob Esdaile, 2018
Father Rob Esdaile is parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Thames Ditton
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