Still Bringing them Home

honouring Bruce Dawe and the war dead


Once a month they’re bringing them home

they’re picking up pieces, they can find

and bringing them home.


They’re bringing them in piled in Hum vees

on top of convoys of APCs and the occasional tank.


Zip-locked in black plastic and labelled

in the coolness of Kabul’s one stone mortuary


They’re ticking names off lists, cross checking

tags and numbers, bagging and boxing and flagging them off


In cargo choked Hercules bumping down furrowed runways

sullen, slow and whining they lift to the air


They’re bringing them home to the bush doomed towns

and the wide prairies of dry cracked


The pomp and circumstance, the ceremony and prayers

candles and condolences, the litany of goodness

his honour and bravery indelible in metal and ribbons.


But the touch of his skin, the warmth of his body

the smell of his neck in summer, your name

called out, at his moment of coming

then white sheet-swirl snugness and soft kisses


All frozen and silenced by the shroud

in the coffin you cannot open.



© M.L.Emmett


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