On the train to Haifa
I think about my father
in wartime Palestine,
a different time, a different name
but the same place.
His memories of oranges and beaches
and warm, Mediterranean swimming
are the times he chose to rescue
from the six years when the world
was drowning in its own blood.
The weather is blue and grey
but the sun shines
like my father’s medals
on his blue-grey air force uniform
that entranced me as a child.
As the helicopter gunships prowl over Mount Carmel,
speeding north to Lebanon,
I wonder what times I will choose to rescue
from a land built out of longing,
but paid for in blood.
POET'S NOTE: It seems sometimes like the Middle East has been constantly in turmoil and this latest event with insurgents declaring an Islamic State in northern Syria and Iraq got me thinking about the 8 months I spent in Israel as an agricultural worker on two Moshavs in 1987 and 1988 and how my father had been there before me as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF during WWII.
My father died in 1995, aged 83, but I remember him telling me about R'n'R in Beirut, the "Paris of the East" he called it. And he had an album of small black and white pictures taken during the war. I always remember the photo of him floating in the Dead Sea. My Dad loved fruit and he said the oranges in Haifa were the sweetest, juiciest oranges he ever tasted.
As you can see, I wrote this in Israel on my Dad's birthday and posted it to him. Sadly, my Dad died before my two sons were born, but we inherited his wartime medals and my youngest son, Ryan, wears his Grandad's medals proudly at our local Anzac Day commemoration.
My son, Ryan, wearing his Grandad's medals, Anzac Day Memorial 2011