Henry Calmacott: Sixth Calmacott

Henry Calmacott as a boy, in cap and knit vest

 

Henry Calmacott

 

Spirits have been called, the way lies open

Waves of interruption, raucous shouts and song

First one cry is heard and then a chorus

Comes again, while the host’s eye resting

on Henry Calmacott, observes a warning sign

Thus bright of voice, to the guest he notes

“The Celts. How many, who can say?

May be that gang the Romans called the Dobunni.

Pagans, all of ’em. We’ve had the university men…”

“Yes. Mr. Woolsaver and his colleague…forget the name.

Minor nobleman from Rennes.”

The host lifts a quieting hand.

Henry Calmacott thinks of

The illnesses that kept him from enlisting

As his brother Michael had, and something he is feeling

Reminds him of a basin jabbed beneath his chin

“Too sick to be sick,” some orderly had chuckled, as

He’d sunk again

Now he feels too grieved to shed the tears

That he had seized his handkerchief to damp

But strangely bears a sorrowing sympathy

For Bernard Arthur, poor unhappy sod

“Because, you know”—he speaks as though he’d spoken

“Topped himself. That was ’23. In the greenhouse,

With his shotgun.”

 


 

Henry Calmacott: Seventh Calmacott

 

(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)

 

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