Poem — C K Stead

Three to the Left

 

1 Vivienne
 
Today was her send-off.
In a plywood coffin
hand-painted with flowers
she was laid out on trestles
in the Trades Hall,
eighty-four years
of Stalinist conviction
leavened by jokes.
 
Tunelessly
interspersed with reminiscence
we sang the Internationale
the Red Flag
and for last farewell
that Bill Blake soul-stirrer
Jerusalem.
 
For her the Wall had fallen
and nothing was changed.
Love and folly persist
and our songs are their servants.
 
2 Brothers
 
E-mailing across oceans
like two dead souls
what was it made me recall
that signing off used by the Old Left –
“Fraternal Greetings”?
It was like a Masonic handshake.
Back came his answer, ending
“Be well in the Struggle
my friend.”
 
3 And then…
 
from somewhere out of my childhood
the Partisan asked to identify himself 
replies
“I am a son of the Proletariat;
my country is the Internationale,
my sister the Revolution,
my song, Bandiera Rossa
The Red Flag.”

C K Stead

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