Black Poppies

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Words | Rhys Smith

You see the hearts of our passed brothers and sisters

have fed the poppies blooming on their graves

– nameless in valour as in death.

But for all the red poppies in Flanders Fields 

there are those that don’t get to flower

– black in nature and in name.

The first blood of this nation left to die,

to be forgotten underneath a field of red poppies

– never to have their stories told.

Their graves are marked instead by inverted flowers,

poppies growing black beneath the surface,

roots twisted around their hearts and heads

– much like the red poppies flowering above.

How could we turn our backs?

We’ve forgotten the blood of the first,

we’ve forgotten what they sacrificed

for a country that beat them red.

I’m not asking for us to forsake the red poppies

on the memorial walls, but to give 

our hearts and heads to the black poppies

– to remember their petals and their fall.

In my dreams I see my grandmother,

the Yuin blood flowing through her veins,

talking to me as she places a single black poppy in a vase.

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