Entrance to Castle Drogo

Antony McCallum

Shrine for a Young Soldier, Castle Drogo


Easy to pick out, Gioconda-faced:
here he crouches in Oxford sepia-blue;
here in the Eton Boys’ XI;
here in a family portrait, in casuals;

here in straitening khaki, moustached like a man,
clutching a bayonet proudly: Major Drewe.
‘With the Angels in Heaven’.

The day the letter arrived from the Front
the butler stood silent behind the door,
the maids waited, eyes blank, and prayed for their masters
in their cluttered living room, newspapers spread with the War.

The golden child rancid in mud
and horror brought home like a catkill left
on a worn-through scullery floor.


previously published in Agenda