For my brother: Ave atque Vale

Our mother’s birthday, the first you were not here
On the earth she loved with such instinctive joy:
Those long bush walks we took refreshed her spirit
That chafed, at times, she had not been born a boy.

Our parents, marrying late, so different, stayed
Faithful to one another and to us two,
Finding in us their hope, care, place of meeting,
They held back nothing they could give or do

Through childhood, boyhood, to our Spring of manhood,
Proud, struggling, dreading the approaching guns.
Then war, the years we tossed on distant oceans:
Singing “God save….”, she prayed “God save my sons.”

The prayer was answered. Suddenly they left us.
We chose our paths. The years like water run.
I am proud you gave so greatly in your calling
And grieve for things I did, and left undone.

Catullus at his brother’s tomb in Troas
Stared hopeless into everlasting night,
But Vaughan cried out, seeing his lost friends walking,
“They are all gone into the world of light.”

Ashes are silent still, but we have trusted
Words beyond time, a household God shall build.
Brother fare well, journeying to that Kingdom
Of faithful servants, and of work fulfilled.

April 1st, 1984

Tributes