ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith posting in [community profile] poetree
The following poem goes with my meta post about "Veterans and War Memorials." It also fills the "war" square on my 10-6-13 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. It belongs to the series Diminished Expectations, which is dystopic science fiction about the aftermath of war.


"Written in Stone"


The monument was made
as soon as the war ended,
before anyone realized
that some of what happened
would never be over.

The architect chose
a classic design:
smooth white marble
faintly veined in gray,
shaped into a round obelisk
like a pillar with the top
lopped off at a sharp angle.

Around the base
wrapped these words,
written in stone:
Dulce et decorum est
pro patria mori
.

But the war had made mock
of everyone in the end,
not death but life
stricken with its bitterness,
chemical weapons leaving
long scars through genetics,
fresh casualties born every day.

Those who had fought the war
looked away from
the visible reminders
of what they had done.

The beautifully mottled marble
became a curse, cruel irony
as a symbol of purity
turned back on itself in perdition.

It resembled the skin
of the Diminished
who would forever remain
part of the conquered
and even the conquerors,

a monument carved
not in stone but in flesh.

* * *

Notes:

White marble has been widely used in monuments.

A round obelisk is an uncommon shape, but here's one example of such a war memorial.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" comes from the Odes by Horace and means "It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country." Both the phrase and the sentiment have been scorned in later war poems.

Memorial design is challenging. There are instructions for creating an effective monument.

Chemical weapons can indeed cause birth defects.  The specific version portrayed in this series is fictitious, but inspired by actual patterns of damage from various sources.

Date: 2013-11-22 01:14 am (UTC)
raze: A man and a rooster. (Default)
From: [personal profile] raze
Lovely, and something we can draw parallels with in real life with Hiroshima/Nagasaki, the use of Agent Orange, etc. Also, Dulce et Decorum Est has got to be one of my favorite poems of all time.

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