Dawn Service

At this hour
the lists are still invisible. The light
from half-extinguished stars drifts down and fades
before it’s reached the balustrades and night
hides galleries where costs are counted. Day
will bring in drums and colours later, sun
will fill this chill, uneasy place between
the parapet and panels. Then the names
will crowd the colonnades again, but now
they’re felt, not seen.

On this day
before the day begins the courtyard stirs,
programmes open, torches search for words
we read each year and should remember – lines
that guide us back to distant lists again,
to obelisks in dusty streets, to all
the names we knew and grew with – names that share
this space behind us here, a place the sky
will lighten while our minds are elsewhere – names
used briefly and then left to haunt a wall.

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