"Behold, their heroes cry in the streets,

The envoys of peace weep bitterly." Isaiah, 33:7.

journal entry for Remembrance Day

Above is a journal entry for Remembrance Day painted last year. This was completed in a discarded library book that I have repurposed for art. Visit this post to see another page in this journal.

I didn't publish this journal spread on my blog last year. I decided to transform it into a black and white photo for the header, and then publish the original painting within the text.

A novel as inspiration for a journal entry

I was inspired by Losing Julia, a novel I read in 2001. The very touching love story has had a lasting effect, but it is the way the author, Jonathan Hull, transports us to the WWI battlefield that has had even a greater impact on me. I have selected one particular section describing the danger and horror of warfare on the front as the young soldiers go out to repair the wire that separates them from the Germans:

SHHHH....THUNK! We roll down into a shell hole, which has a foot of cold, pasty water at the bottom.

SHHHH....THUNK! We press against the dirt, hiding from the glowing eagles that hover overhead, searching. Pop, pop. Pop. pop. Sniper fire down the line. And farther the whine of a shell.  Whhizzzzzz BANG!

We wait.  Daniel's face, made ghostly white under the flare is expressionless. I don't even see him in his face and wonder if he stayed back in the trenches, perhaps to write poetry. Tometti's face trembles the way my grandfather's did in the months before he died. His pupils are shoved toward the top of his sockets as they scan the sky and he has one hand pressed down hard on the top of his helmet.

If I die and all my friends die, then who will carry the story of my death back across the ocean? (221).

[...]

Daniel yanks my shoulder and I turn and stare at the hole in Tometti's throat which is foaming and bubbling. Daniel runs off to find a medic and I hold Tometti who is staring at me expectantly only I don't know what to do for a throat wound. I unbutton his shirt and hold him and rock him and he keeps staring at me demanding with his eyes and shit Tometti breathe breathe breathe what do I do for a throat wound shall I press my hand against it so you can stop leaking air or are you breathing from your throat now? Which is it Tometti nod or something Christ BREATHE TOMETTI BREATHE TOMETTI BREATHE MEDIC GODDAMN IT MEDIC OH SHIT TOMETTI I'VE GOT YOU I'VE GOT YOU I'VE GOT YOU. (222)

 

fence with poppies by chris barbalis at unsplash

Photo by Chris Barbalis at unsplash.

 

2 Responses

  • I remember others books you recommended by Jennifer Robson to do with war, perhaps not as graphic as Losing Julia, I think we all need to be reminded of the sacrifice made by so many in all wars. Thankfully we have been pretty much spared from that type of conflict, but we need to remember those who are trying to keep the peace still…

    • And those who have come back to us damaged by war. The walking wounded are among us. Our Silver Cross mother at the national Remembrance Day ceremony lost her son to suicide when he came back a broken man from Afghanistan more than a decade ago. She fought the government so that soldiers (like her son) suffering PTSD receive compensation and recognition for their work. It is the first time that a Silver Cross mother is chosen from among those who have lost someone to PTSD.

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