The Vimy Oaks

By Judith Krause, Regina, SK

 

for Leslie Miller 1889-1979

Only a farm boy from southern Ontario
would stoop in the muck of that dank

spring dawn on the barren ridge
to pocket a handful of acorns.

Only a boy would ignore
strict orders to stand tall

in the havoc of that advance
into artillery fire, snow and sleet

slapping his face, a reminder
to stay alert, his first time away

from home must not be his last.
Like pennies, like marbles,

the boy carried those acorns for luck
all through the war, and when

at last he could, he dug
a snug deep bed for each

in the black earth of the family
woodlot, then returned to tending

his apples, grapes and pears.
Now, a hundred years later,

his oaks are coming home, scions to be
hand planted on these silent hills,

one tree for every regiment,
one leaf for each soldier who fell.