NOT MUCH TO TELL

I wrote this poem in 2006. I wrote is as part of an application for the ANZAC chaperone competition run every year by the education dept. Dad was a Rat of Tobruk, who never spoke of his experiences in the war, until I pestered him enough one day and he broke down in front of me, which was something dad never did. This is the poem I wrote with him in mind.

”Not much to tell” he’d say
Whenever asked about the war.
Then he’d sit and stare at spaces,
Who knows, just what he saw?

“Not much to tell” he’d say
And then he’d stand and walk away.
He’d grab his trusty snake wire
and he’d head out for the day.

“Not much to tell” he’d say,
and then he’d amble off to check,
on the livestock he had shedded
with rain trickling down his neck.

“Not much to tell” he’d say
until one day, again, I asked.
He couldn’t hide the horror
from behind his steely mask.

His weary head supported
by his weather beaten hands,
he sat and sobbed – not much to tell
of war in far off lands.

Of trenches, death and gunfire
Of illness, pain and smells
Of hunger, thirst, discomfort
And years of living hell.

Of mates who didn’t make it
Of mates who lost a limb,
Of mates who lost their sanity
Of mates who chucked it in.

Not much to tell – how could he?
It was something that he’d shelved
A haunting, restless turmoil
Which surfaced as I delved.

“Not much to tell?” – it’s ok dad
Hey, how about a walk?
We’ll check out sheep and fences
I don’t care if we don’t talk.

“Not much to tell” he’d say
Whenever asked about the war.
Then he’d sit and stare at spaces
and the demons that he saw.

Marg Murnane

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