Wednesday, 3 July 2019

In Memoriam: A.M. Davis

Here's a poem I wrote a couple of years ago about someone who is remembered by a stone in the cemetery at Kensal Green.

In Memorian: A.M. Davis

Eventually, we found him, no-name Davis,
though we got no more than his initials,
a bald A.M. -  Andrew, Adam, Angus?
What’s in a name? Info for officials

certainly, but first a mother’s cooing,
a father’s first boasting, cigar in hand,
and now it is gone.  What we’re pursuing
is chimera, a ghost in the sand.

He served with the three forty-seventh
Mechanical Transport Company
in the land of milk and honey, heaven
but for a kind of killing gluttony.

His body is buried in Ramlah, and
remembered here in more temperate climes.
Nearby a skeletal gasometer stands
encircling nothing, describing dead time.

The still-white limestone has cracked at the base.
Not quite flat, it strains against oblivion.
Without difficulty we read its face:
there is nothing beyond death’s quotidian.

There are scallop shells, loose on the gravel.
They signify a loss across the seas,
for a soldier who did not die in battle
succumbing perhaps to Levantine disease.

How lately placed it is hard to reckon.
Lives, like memory, like gas, seep unseen
through gaps in time, and now this one beckons,
this early Spring day, crying I HAVE BEEN.

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