John-Ward Leighton


Photo ©Copyright 2007 by John-Ward Leighton
Photo ©Copyright 2007 by John-Ward Leighton
“Zero five, five four hours;
rise and shine”
shouts the company orderly sergeant
in my head
as the duty bugler
blows reveille:
“Let go of your cocks,
and grab your socks,
its day light in the swamp.”

I rub the cobwebs of sleep
out of the corners of my eyes
and realize
that old habits die hard
for a moment there
I was a green recruit
in the company of
twenty eight other green recruits
in the regimental depot
at Currie barracks
in August 1955.

I look at old snap shots
and it’s hard to imagine
how time has flown
and how different today’s
old man in the mirror
is from the nineteen year old
in the photos.

I type this out on a machine
as yet unimagined in that time.
My e mails reveal
that yet another comrade
from those days
has passed on to his reward.
The news surf
records yet another death
in Afghanistan.

The comrade whose notice
I received
was eighty three
the lad in Afghanistan
at twenty five
a mere stripling by comparison:
One with a good long life of a survivor
the other not so lucky.
What a perilous trade
we all have practiced.

As Alfred Lord Tennyson
so aptly says
The Charge of the Light Brigade,
“Theirs was not to reason why,
theirs was but to do or die.”

Death will come to us all
be it by evil design
or fatal circumstance
there always comes a time
to leave this mortal dance.

What dire thoughts
this bright Sunday
remembering that the
last post of remembrance
after a moment of silence
always ends
with reveille.

Author’s Note: Dedicated to James MacKendrick QOR of C (1924-2007) and Cpl. Matthew McCully RC Sigs (1982-2007)

It’s too late to say we are sorry so we tell this lie: “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.”
(It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country (Horace)