Today we attended the Remembrance Day ceremony we attend every year, at East Vancouver’s South Memorial Park. There are fewer war veterans every year, but otherwise the ceremony’s always the same. Despite the inclement weather, there was a good turnout of observers. I took some photos.

I pretty much post the same thing every year (see 2003 and 2004)–attended, good turnout, and so forth–and then usually cite a familiar poem. This year, I thought I’d choose something more obscure, about a rarely-mentioned war and a different kind of loss:

by Michael Ondaatje

To be buried in times of war,
in harsh weather, in the monsoon
of knives and stakes.

The stone and bronze gods carried
during a night rest of battle
between the sleeping camps
floated in catamarans down the coast
past Kalutara
   To be buried
for safety.

To bury, surrounded by flares,
large stone heads
during floods in the night.
Dragged from a temple
by one’s own priests,
lifted onto palanquins,
covered with mud and straw.
Giving up the sacred
among themselves,
carrying the faith of a temple
during political crisis
away in their arms.
the gestures of the Buddha.

Above ground, massacre and race.
A heart silenced.
The tongue removed.
The human body merged into burning tire.
Mud glaring back
into a stare.

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