Caitlin Jones-Dunn Dramatic Monologue (audio and text)
Monument in the New Zealand Memorial Park on the Messines battlefield, Mesen, Belgium.
Image Souce: PAMS 2016 photo collection
Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship 2016
The white marble glistens under the hot European sun.
Vast expanses of white wall,
and white grave stones.
Covered in name, after name, after name.
Luscious green grass crackles beneath my feet
broken in the wake of valiant murder.
Crackles that cover the atrocity.
All of it buried
for all of these years.
Right beneath my feet
lie men once ricocheted to pieces.
Who once had the glint of the sun in their eye.
attached to legs, which move with agility.
Swallowed into a torso where a heart still beats.
Where lungs hang free of gas.
Fused to arms still full of human strength.
To a neck holding a voice free from the sobs of loss.
Balancing a head with ears that do not ring, eyes which see and a brain free from the lashings of
When told about the Great War,
I had seen the numbers, felt anger at the figures.
But feeling is minimal when you stand amongst such ‘avenues of the dead’.
Numbers, numbers, more numbers still.
Though no-one at home remembers these bodies that lie still.
Wandering amongst these graves, tears begin to come.
I see now why it's hard to remember what we've done.
Trees have come back.
Birds sing once more.
Loved-ones wave hands.
In towns built around churches.
People gather in shops.
Battlefield land turned into farmyard lots.
Framed by cobblestone streets.
Where children play amongst,
Suits, skirts, and screens.
An oasis where such banality is prone.
A benignly haunted post wartime utopia.
I cannot explain the sheer presence of death.
It is only felt when standing
amongst these eternal scripts of fallen men.
Witnessing their eternal sacrifice and utter bravery.
How can we still forget the catastrophe!
I feel the wind rush across my skin,
and can almost hear the rattling of mess tins.
The sacrifice is great,
yet we still hide our darkest trait.
Ignorant creatures that remain the masters of destruction.
To ourselves, others.
We turn our eyes, blind toward the sun
and shroud ourselves in darkness!
You see, we yearn for power.
We do with it what we will.
And then continue to devourfreedom,
hope, justice, peace.
Where has our conscience gone?
Vanished in the sludge of the Somme?
Or shattered in the shell fire of Pozieres?
Or perhaps suffocated in the gas of Fromelles?
The clanging of mess tins disappears.
Now only chattering fills my ears.
Of visitors left in the same dismay.
So much death to comprehend in one day.
Staring out into the land that lies beyond the scripted walls.
I see a place that was once a harbour of death,
now a place of life.
Soil filled with seedlings,
sown by farmers,
embedded with gentle care and anticipationbringing
of a future that these dead men did not live.
Leaving me empty of expression.
Where tightness spreads across my chest.
Brine pours from my eyes.
My heart heaves with despair.
In fact, impossible.
To fathom the gruesome loss.
Bombs of war and hatred.
Deaths of innocent men merely baited.
Impossible for one to invisage,
row after row.
Caused by blow after blow.
To the heart, to the soul.
The bones, the flesh.
The courage, the will.
Recollections of walking through tombstones plentiful,
standing beneath two-shilling stars,
will form inscriptions on my heart.
The unforgettable women and men,
on foreign soil.
The land they fought in.
Land they cried in.
Lost hope in.
Gave up in.
In returning to reality,
I am dropped into busy centrality.
A world teeming with life,
that does not recall,
does not look back.
To do my part is to remember.
Voices uncountable echo ‘We
No more does it feel foreign and strange,
but will we ever remember to change?