Pacify – If Alun Lewis had a Daughter

by Yvette Naden

Daddy was a pacifist
From soft kisses and smooth
Soon roughened callouses,
Mummy said he never strayed.
Knew his pen more than the pistol
Brought warm sunlight to those
Drowning in mud, in rain.

Daddy was a pacifist
Mummy said he never raised
A single hand; yet his words
Survive while his body lies abandoned in
A long-broken, man-made
Land. Of the fallen, he is the
Only angel.

He was gifted a smile like golden yarn,
Mummy said it never unravelled
Even when the bread on the windowsill was
Stale or when the explosion echoed and
Rubble sung parallel
To the screams of men and women
He’d known from school. Daddy never wavered
Until his heart splintered when he shot a man to ribbons
His fingers forever shackled to the trigger of a gun
That was an unwanted limb writhing under his skin. He tried to see
Undefined shapes, crude brushstrokes on a canvas,
But Mummy said, in the end, all he could see was a man with a
Family just like
Us.

Daddy was a pacifist but
Mummy said the war tore him in two
With half a heart on the front-lines withering
Further with all the men he slew. Perhaps,
Mummy said, he had grown weary of the fight
Decided not to rail against extinguishing his light
Others said he was trying to stop a brawl in the
Reserve trench, but every time I ask Mummy for the truth,
I can see her shaking hands clench.

My daddy was a pacifist
Despite his murderer’s costume
He never danced with Death and never did he
Dream that the rusted bullet of a futile gun
Would ever pacify him.