I have been a member of the Royal City Literary Arts Society for a few months now. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several very talented and well renowned poets and writers.
This group offers several workshops and open mic events. This, I realized, was something I desperately needed to work on. Public speaking is rather intimidating to me. By the time I get up to do my piece , typically I’ve inhaled and am sweating buckets.
I remind myself to breathe and do so rather raggedly.
Seventy-four years ago an iconic photograph was taken here in New Westminster has Canada advanced into World War II. On October 4th, 2014 a monument will be unveiled commemorating this event at the very location that the photograph was taken from.
The City of New Westminster approached the Royal City Arts Society (a.k.a. RCLAS) and asked the members to submit poems regarding the photograph titled ‘Wait for Me, Daddy.” It was taken by Charles Detloff of the Daily Province newspaper and later that month would make it onto page 37 of TIME magazine.
RCLAS posted the poetry challenge to its members. I opted to give it a shot and my submission was one of the poems selected.
Tonight we had the poetry reading at the newly opened Anvil Centre here in New Westminster. This was apparently the first cultural event there. Personally this would be the first ‘formal’ reading I would be participating in.
I got home from work then paced my living room reading the poem aloud repeatedly.
I have watched many of the seasoned poets in this group get up and perform their pieces. And I thought perhaps I should try this approach. This was only my fourth time reading and if my furniture was any indication they were captivated by my reading. I rendered the inanimate things speechless!
Now it was time for the real deal.
I walked over to the centre. It’s only about four and half blocks away from my home. We’ve had several days of much needed rain, quite heavy at times, but the skies had softened and the clouds had broken as I stepped out into the evening.
As the poets were called forth with a brief bio to introduce each, I felt the nerves set in. When my name was called I rose in my liquid state and performed the piece kinda sorta the way I wanted to. I was a little emotional and when the paper I was holding began to tremble I just tried not to think about it and pushed through.
I was humbled by the response to my reading and very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this event.
Below is my submission.
If you would like to check out the other submissions I have provided the link at the end of this post.
Thanks for stopping by.
A native of Vancouver, Nancy Pilling moved to New Westminster in 2010. She is currently employed as an accountant in North Vancouver. She has had a lifelong love of writing and is dedicated to this passion of hers. It is Nancy’s desire to continue exploring the many avenues of the written word and to publish her work.
A Single Moment
by Nancy Pilling
It is a single moment captured and frozen in a frame,
A photographer’s dream,
A small piece of history now has a face, a single image and its power,
Still felt to this day,
It spoke to the agony of a people, to a nation, to the world.
The world back then was tough and gritty,
The Great Depression had weathered us all,
War now held us in its grip,
We were a young country then, just finding our feet,
Collectively we stood together.
Canada would fight for the liberties we were coming to know,
We’d fight for the vision of a country imagined in a world gone mad,
And we’d fight for the freedom that was ours to defend,
And we would do so with innocent bravado.
An outstretched hand son to father,
The line of troops in perfect symmetry,
Expressions, the angst and determination,
Emotions, the love and fear,
Immortalized as time stood still.
He lived and I wonder who walked back into his son’s life?
Was it a familiar stranger, or was it Dad?
Did he bear the confidence once shown?
Or was the gift of his time in hell
Memories of a bloody field that would haunt the rest of his days?
My father too fought in this war,
A young man, he was eighteen and so brave,
Dad’s stories were never told, he held tight to those terrors,
That hell of his remained a mystery and died with him,
But we lived his horror every day,
At least that’s the reason I’d like think as to why he turned out that way,
Maligned and damaged, so dark his soul barring the shadow of a boy who was no more.
The innocence of youth saw young men march to war who sacrificed a promised life,
What was that boy losing the day his father marched away?