UPVC Windows, Amlwch War Memorial Poem
by Alix Warren
(Bull Bay, Amlwch)
An Anglesey Poet on the War Memorial in the small village of Amlwch on the north east coast of the island.
We shall start behind the library in Amlwch. Down the lane to the right stands the Amlwch War Memorial hall. Built in the late 1800's as a school, this grand building must have been the town's pride and joy.
In 1924, paid for by public subscription, the war memorial was added and opened by Lady Neave. Over the years the hall has been used as a grammar school and as a community hall.
The memorial, in its porch, has seen the hall fall into disrepair and refurbished on a number of occasions. Now the memorial stands in all its plastic glory and shut off from the public.
You are safe now, behind your new plastic windows and door.
Your carved names on your cleaned up marble slab,
much warmer than before. In your polished oak frame.
Safe from the bullets and the gas and the drowning mud trenches.
Safe from the tanks and the barbed-wire embraces.
You are warmer now, in your refurbished time-controlled porch.
Safe from the bitter welsh wind, and the leaves,
and rubbish that once blew around your poppy wreathes.
It wasn't always like this, this hall;
you'll remember, having stayed the course,
you, who marched through fire and water
all the way to hell.
You'll remember how the good people of Amlwch
had formed committees to decide how to remember you,
how to spend the money well,
donated in remorse,
how to honour your sacrifice.
You'll remember how the committee had decided that
already built for the use of all the people,
should be the place for your memorial.
Was it a money cutting exercise not to erect
a brand spanking new fountain
or copy cat cenotaph?
Did they argue amongst themselves
as to who should carve the stone.
Was it a local or did they ask someone from over the mountain as is their practice today?
You'll remember how your grieving families had gathered around to watch Lady Neave open the doors,
and cried their recommended tears,
and sung their appropriately mournful hymns
and laid their flowers on the bright tiled floor,
They read the inscription then that
you had died as heroes,
lost at sea, lost on the land,
you had died for freedom, equality and fraternity.
Then as heroes, all, you stayed on
to hear the last Noson Llawens,
the echo of bingo callers filling the empty hours,
and when the last dance had been danced,
and the desks had been thrown away as the children moved up
to the purpose built secondary modern,
and the curtain had come down on the
biggest wooden stage in North Wales,
you stayed the course.
Through an age of bitter warring,
and a soaring cost of living,
the hall still stood guarding your honour.
Neglected, damp, musty with memories.
Used by such a few who cared enough,
but didn't have the funds to mend the peeling plaster
weeping in your porch,
and stop up the seeping winds blowing through the walls.
Until another committee with the aid of European monies
(what an irony)
ripped the very roof off and tore the rotting windows out,
and threw away the props.
They swore it would be great
A bombsite now but just you wait.
Now a smart new hall stands around you.
All the health and safety laws checked off.
Signs in the kitchen as to which colour coded chopping board to use,
all politically correct and user-friendly with a ramp and toilets for the disabled.
And some of the old users view the hall in awe,
now unable to afford the rent.
Did you imagine that with all the money and time spent
you would not be forgotten?
Another memorial plaque saved from a closing chapel has joined you on the whitewashed wall.
A list of boys long gone.
An echo of grief.
'I, like a blade of grass, withers'
the dead whisper
to the dead.
And the wind is stopped at the door.
A cyclamen dies in its pot.
You hang there in all your UPVC glory,
Hidden behind a plethora of posters stuck on your windows.