CHILDREN AND WAR: The distressing news and pictures on our TV screens brings home the plight of children caught up in conflict. A few years ago in Kosovo there was another war, another group of children suffering as a result of the aggression of adults. A delightful afternoon spent with our grandchildren in the play area of the local park spawned this poem, in which my late husband powerfully reflects on the contrast between the safety enjoyed by our own children and the horror faced by children in war zones.
We pray for lasting peace and justice in the Middle East and in all areas of conflict throughout the world. Irene Cretchley
We brought them to the park;
Not by the church, but the playground end.
Young eyes emulate birds
Flitting here and there for morsels of adventure.
Swings and chain-walks are soon jilted
For a stunted, sprawling tree;
A sorry sight of torn leaves and broken limbs,
Victim of unequal war with countless hordes of kids.
Swiftly encamped, secreted under foliage,
Voices squeak like organ-pipes bellowing a plan.
"You are dragons. You have to catch us!"
And as they emerge at breakneck speed,
We, the aging dragons,
Short on breath with all fire spent
Give brave but lacklustre chase.
I find a bench
And puffing like a loco, ruminate:
Children weave imaginary worlds.
For them that crooked, half-crazed tree is not a tree at all,
But cradle for their joy-sprung dreams
Which grown men swap for nightmare-sponsored screams.
And as I watch the tree exuding life,
I see kids in Kosovo dragging weary limbs,
Fleeing from the dragon's fiery breath.
23.4.99 Ron Cretchley www.thinkingpoet.co.uk