Anzac Day at Moruya 2005

Moya Pacey

Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies (Edna St Vincent Millay)

The Light Horse Re-enactment: gun carriage,
four chestnut horses, riders dressed as Anzacs,
khaki, slouch hats with feathers, sweeps into Page Street.
A brass band blows ‘Lead Kindly Light’ over the dusty town.

Vintage cars roll up. Old soldiers stagger, steady,
fall in. Returned Service men and women grip flags.
Boy scouts, sea scouts, track-suited walkers
clutch medals. Children clasp their parents’ hands.

Major General (Retd.), scornful of the microphone,
squares his shoulders, remembers,
‘Our generation did a good job.’
Jack dances a jig, ‘I’m busting.’

The bugle plays ‘The Last Post’ then ‘Reveille’.
A marcher topples to the ground. The band strikes up
‘Abide with Me’. An ambulance, lights blazing,
siren muted, scatters the crowd.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee…

Going home, Kate asks, ‘What does fail mean?’