They wouldn’t believe us

The ‘prosery’ prompt over at dverse is to write a story of exactly 144 words including this line from a poem by Jo Harjo:

“These memories were left here with the trees”

I haven’t used exactly the same words, just the sense from them. We lived for almost ten years among the French battlefields of the Great War and the atmosphere of the entire area is a very special and very melancholy one.

 

She had always found it a sad place, the landscape, the people—too rural, enclosed like the big fortified farms, no outlet for any feelings. There were mature trees growing around the foxholes now, and shell craters were filled with bracken. The mutilated and the broken lay almost hidden, but she imagined she heard their cries as they were blown from their roots. Men were turned to bloody soup in these woods that became cellulose soup, then oceans of bloody mud.

The fields were tilled again and flowers blew at their edges, but beneath the trees memories lingered. If she dug her hands into the deep earth she could pull them out. They whispered in the delicate woodland flowers, but it was the trees that held her in their spell, the horror of their stories, the unquiet memories that were buried in their roots.

 

They wouldn’t believe us

My feelings about the First World War were shaped not by stories handed down about grandfathers or grand uncles because the dead were dead and those who came back never wanted to talk about it, or by reading the war poets at school, but from seeing a performance of Oh! What A Lovely War when I was about fourteen. It broke my heart, and still does.

The opinion now seems to be that the commemoration of the Armistice should be to celebrate a race of heroes. We honour the sacrifice of a generation. The idea of the senseless tragedy, conniving national leaders, and incompetent generals, brilliantly put across in the play then the film of Oh! What a Lovely War, seems to have rather gone out of fashion.

This is the final sequence from it. If you don’t cry there’s something wrong with you.