And so it continues, and we continue to look on from afar. Our souls are in turmoil even though our homes remain as orderly as they were days ago. Nothing has changed in our homes, in fact we are beginning to plant seeds in the yard now that the Spring has arrived with its promise of warmer days. Yet for all too many Spring has arrived with little promise as war continues to ravage homes and hearts. The UK poet laureate, Simon Armitage, reminds us in a new poem that the images we see speak not just of the present but of the distant past – so what has changed – sadly nothing its war again! In fact the title of Armitage’s poem Resistance reminds me of a novel by Owen Sheers, himself a poet and author, whose book Resistance tells a powerful story of resistance by the woman of a Welsh village during WWII when all the men had left to fight.
Take a moment to ponder the poem and its many images and as you read offer a prayer for the people of Ukraine in the midst of their hell.
It’s war again: a family
carries its family out of a pranged house
under a burning thatch.
The next scene smacks
of archive newsreel: platforms and trains
(never again, never again),
over heads and shoulders, lifetimes stowed
in luggage racks.
It’s war again: unmistakable smoke
on the near horizon mistaken
for thick fog. Fingers crossed.
An old blue tractor
tows an armoured tank
into no-man’s land.
It’s the ceasefire hour: godspeed the columns
of winter coats and fur-lined hoods,
the high-wire walk
over buckled bridges
managing cases and bags,
balancing west and east – godspeed.
It’s war again: the woman in black
gives sunflower seeds to the soldier, insists
his marrow will nourish
the national flower. In dreams
let bullets be birds, let cluster bombs
burst into flocks.
False news is news
with the pity
edited out. It’s war again:
an air-raid siren can’t fully mute
the cathedral bells –
let’s call that hope.
we pray for the millions in Ukraine
who follow the ones in front,
and as they follow,
they wear and carry their whole lives,
and with heavy hearts
carry decades of memories,
lips still tasting that farewell kiss,
arms embracing children and elderly parents.
They follow those in front,
fearful to look behind.
Merciful God, be real to all. Amen