Decline and Fall

Lieutenant Colonel John Napier Cormack MBE MC Reaches Ninety

Tough as old boots. The words spring to mind
As I survey the half of John’s lifetime
I’ve seen. With back packs we set off to climb
Lochnagar thirty years ago and mined
Snow to take back and show those left behind
In Craigendarroch. As vistas sublime
Unfolded below John surged on and I’m
Thinking old age isn’t much of a grind
Whilst you have good health. Sixty isn’t old
These days. Ninety is. Laid low by a stroke
Bestriding the world as a colossus
Is no longer an option. But behold
Reminiscence’s splendiferous joke.
The older I am the better I was!

RIP Lieutenant Colonel John Napier Cormack MBE MC

He’s dead. That morning he seemed to rally
Eating two tubs of ice cream, complaining
He felt terrible before expiring
After years of decline, far from happy
To go. The world is lucky to have me
He’d answered when questioned about living.
The dashing young officer who (sharing
His dugout with rats) picked up an MC,
Met his dream girl, and married her in weeks…
The father of three who chased Russian tanks
Taking pictures for the good of the cause…
The grandpa bitten by grandsons on cheeks…
For all his many parts we offer thanks;
He leaves the stage to thunderous applause.

John’s Funeral

Cruellest April, swapping sweet showers for
A raging storm that pelts the garden pond.
Water leaps to greet each kindred sphere, fond
Embraces cover the surface before
Gravity and surface tension restore
Calm, each droplet lost in the depths beyond
Our sight, its identity subsumed, donned
By the greater body, distinct no more.
The hearse awaits the improvised cortege,
Just four cars needed to convey us all
To the chapel where four grandsons shoulder
His coffin. His life now one with les neiges
D’antan his passing casts a heavy pall.
There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier …

Scattering John’s Ashes

There’s a better class of undergrowth in
Scotland. The serried rows of pines, ramrod
Straight let light alight on the soft green sward
Contrasting nicely with the grey lichen.
(Unwary ramblers will find their skin
Ripped to pieces by brambles should they plod
Through an English wood’s understorey shod
In fashionable footwear that’s too thin.)
The cremated remnants were surprising
Considering the frailty of the corpse.
Six ziplock bags full, three for each offspring
Present. Weaving through the trees, dust trailing,
Motes dance in sunbeams. Children from time-warps
Decades ago, twisted by time’s passing.

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