All that connects us is a name:
Stafford, J.G., 22nd Battalion.
I saw you today upon that wall,
With hundreds of thousands of others to fall
In battle, in war, often in vain,
Sent far from home, you’ll always remain.
You died 69 years before I was born:
The 4th of October, 1917.
Upon Flander’s fields, dispatched in battle,
Sent up to be killed, slaughtered like cattle.
Lain down in Ypres, beyond Menin Gate,
Marked by a white cross, as all with this fate.
Your life in Australia was spent in the country:
Colac, Victoria before moving to Ouyen.
A labourer is all,
Constructing a wall,
Sweating with toil,
Tilling the soil,
Getting the call,
To fight a great war.
You were 27 years when leaving Port Melbourne:
Upon the HMAT Hororato.
A girl left in port, named Ivy Jane,
A niece or friend, or perhaps secret flame.
When I was your age, in Australia as well,
I’d found a sweet heaven, while you left for hell.
I do not know you, nor do we share blood,
But today you were there, and there I stood.
Thoughtful and thankful, looking for meaning,
You sent me away, stronger belief in,
My fortune and hope, my freedom and joy,
Your name etched a man, counsel to my boy.