‘If war happens now, it happens far from me and from the peace that we enjoy in Britain today…our remembering is suitably complicated.’ – N. Biggar
Red poppies coursing out of towers:
less like blood than one might think.
Blood one hundred years of age
would be brown or black, the colours of dust.
To dust return the dead, whyever their deaths.
The metaphor of blood is quick-drying. Its rivulets,
its floods are only ever red in that cloying
sentimental closet called memory which
both shouts and, decorously, whispers
a compelling lie: ‘We are enjoying peace’.
Vague – or even concrete – cultural liberties
and peace are not equivalent. We are not
enjoying peace so much as ignoring war
or wars; plural, pluriform, and distant only
in geography. And what isn’t distant
in geography from an island nation?
Close. So close. In cause and captive,
in complicity and in benefit, war is nearer
than the Tower-poppies tainted the red
of a kindergarten child’s colour wheel
turned from the dried blood to that now spilling;
to the camps of hopelessness where the fled
flock only to be corralled and pinioned out of sight
so some might say ‘We are enjoying peace’.