In university I had a fabulous prof. for my Introductory Professional Term class on how to teach English named Marg Iveson (yes, mom to mayor Don Iveson). She’s the real deal, and, with her numerous reflective paper assignments, she taught me a long lasting lesson on the importance of writing as a means of reflecting. She also taught me the importance of “walking the talk:” to encourage creativity in out students, we must start with being creative ourselves. As such, we were sent home one afternoon in early November with the assignment of writing a poem. It was to be personal and meaningful. I tore into my Grandpa’s WW II documents, and created this: 14335, Injured.
At the time, in the messy middle of university, it had been years since I’d had the opportunity, or made the time, to write anything creative. I’d almost forgot that I had the capability to write something that wasn’t a literary critique or a history paper, and it felt so good. Marg’s assignment lit a spark that burned slowly a first, and, being fed with more time and attention and confidence, burns a little more brightly now.
So , while this poem is meaningful for me in that way, it’s the subject matter that’s most important today, on November 11. Understandably, my Grandpa Ish wasn’t one to talk candidly about his experience in the British Royal Marines during World War II, but my mom, in her relentless pursuit of preserving family history, was able to draw a few stories out of him, and we do have his records and papers. This photo, taken in India in 1945, must have been taken only a few months before the jeep he was travelling in careened off a bridge, coming to rest in the dry river bank far below. He was the only survivor.
Me, here? Scorpions?
Well, boys, we must; the jungle
Near Palghat? It’s South.
Tire catches. The world. Drops away.
Silence. Hot. Sweat. Fear.
India, this place.
So strange. Pain. Like knives, striking.
Next to me, soft groans?
Help? But, no sound. Only me-
left-the lucky one, they say.
When they find me. One.
No edge on the bridge, at all.
Just me, and the guilt-
Survivor’s-loud whispers, Move?
Still I cannot. My leg, pinned.