The sun had not fully risen above the dark silhouetted
Droplets of dew twinkled in the first rays of morning light,
like scattered jewels lying in the grass.
A small group of people gathered around the memorial: some
friends, some strangers.
In the bitter, icy air, they fished their hands into pockets
and stamped their feet for warmth.
It was chilly for early autumn.
Fog hung overhead in a charcoal blanket.
Blood-red poppies adorned each person's coat, the only bright
colour in an otherwise dismal, grey dawn.
Someone stepped forward and delivered a speech; their loud,
clear voice sliced through the thick air like a knife.
Two women approached the memorial bearing wreaths of flowers
and foliage; made with love, not just greenery.
Placed at the foot of the cenotaph, the wreaths seemed to
breathe life into the dull concrete and stone.
Silence. Suddenly, the first piercing note of a bugle rang
out, a well-known tune which the crowd immediately
It resonated in the empty street and carried their thoughts
to a different place.
They saw images of battlefields and bloodshed.
Waves of sadness and aching washed over them.
As the final tones faded, there was quiet once again.
No movement or sound, just a congregation of statues frozen
The fog had lifted, replaced with an invisible cloud of
melancholy which weighed down on the group like a cloak of
They did not notice when the bugle's song ended.
They simply stared at the memorial, the lists of names, the
crimson poppies, their thoughts still amidst the tragic
events of the past.
Summer arrives in the small town, draping the trees in new
The memorial lies forlornly in their long dappled shadows.
Neglected, almost forgotten, even at a bustling intersection.
Its dreary, plain concrete is unable to compare with the deep
expanse of dazzling indigo overhead, and the barren hills now
illuminated with radiant sunlight.
The memorial melts into the tree-lined street.
It wants to retreat, to mask its ageing features.
Forgotten; chipped paint, peeling letters, weeds struggling
for survival in a sea of concrete.
Tattered paper poppies flutter in the mild breeze; a fleeting
sparkle of colour in an otherwise dull street.
Vehicles roar by, their only glimpse of the memorial a
distorted blur of brown and grey.
Pedestrians stroll leisurely along the footpath.
Their thoughts are set firmly on the faraway hills, no spare
thoughts for the lonely cenotaph.
Racing around the corner come a mob of rowdy school children.
Upon noticing it, they boldly clamber over the railings, a
momentary glance of curiosity at the list of names; names
barely legible beneath the layer of fuzzy moss.
Hiding beneath the cenotaph in the gloom of midday shadows,
the children trace the rough and calloused stone, cool from
the shade, with their hands.
In their eyes, the memorial is a mysterious object, with a
significance not fully understood.
Occasionally, someone does remember it.
Overlooking the many signs of age they pause, spending just a
few minutes studying the register of soldiers who never
returned to the town.
They reflect, they recall the tragic events of the past.
• By Emily Fielding, Year 12, Waitaki Girls' High