Today (or yesterday, since I have fallen slightly behind) the subject of the day’s poem was to be any space, as long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to me.
The space is a space inside a green leather wallet, stamped on the outside with the insignia of the Royal Marines, and the Corps motto : Per Mare, per Terram – By Sea and By Land. It is where my brother keeps his testimonial from his time in the Corps, and it is meaningful, because it is what he prizes most, even though his time in the military was many years ago.
This poem will be part of the colleciton of poems I am writing about my brother. It is hard to write about him, because I worry that using him as a subject is not wholly moral. I have shown him some poems though, and he was pleased with them, so….
Pressed flat inside green leather,
the stained, worn piece of paper
which he shows to all his carers.
Testimonial that, once, he was a man.
He gained operational experience
in the Falklands campaign.
He was nineteen, sent a letter home
from the Invincible to ask for suntan oil.
He was a polite, reasonable man,
worked well without supervision;
demonstrated some potential as a leader.
He maintained an outstanding level
of fitness and was a serious contender
in national standard triathlons
which requires dedication, sacrifice.
The veteran keeps the wallet
close to the bed, ready to produce
to testify that, before this horror hit,
he was a man. Unfortunately,
he did not last the distance, decided to
leave the corps before he had
realised his full potential. Now,
he is slowly leaving his body behind,
without fully realising
His pleasant, amiable approach will