Magazine article Dissent

Central Railway, Sydney

Magazine article Dissent

Central Railway, Sydney

Article excerpt

In a shit-house stall in Central

I saw the one word "Mum"

and thought once more of young men

torn by want or war or hunger

from their families, the West Virginian

I wrote of thirty years ago and knew

fifteen years before that who broke down

and cried and made us cry to hear him.

So I have come full circle in every way.

I sit here helpless, remembering

Pedro lllic's tale of his grandfather

alone crossing an ocean and two

continents to give what was left

of his life to the nitrate mines

of Chile or my own father fleeing

the wars of Tsarist Russia and sent

to the high adventures of England.

What came back from the Somme

or El Alemain? A torn photograph,

a missing place at dinner which dimmed

and finally vanished over the years.

Europe too went on to fade at last,

still with her grinning queens

and princes good at horsemanship,

her armies of the republic that might

turn out for parades, and all

those overwrought statues to the past

and fountains wasting water. …

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