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In Memoriam: Matthew Marshall (Bill)

Poem For Jenny

"It is a good day to die,"

Chief Crazy Horse, Ogallala Sioux.

I loved him Jenny because he was my brother
And I liked my brother because he was my friend.
This pain brings me sunlit water memories of childhood,
A small hand in a small hand in a small hand.
Wild brothers-in-arms we'd wade streams Zambezi-hot
Where Savannah air crackled grasshopper loud
And the moorland pulsed in the pull of the sun.
Climbing stones moss-greened slick to ford,
We'd crouch Hawkeye still to await the Huron horde.
Long long summer days we'd paddle our dragon boat
Viking quick across flat black Gwynedd water,
Or patrol, madlancer-like, the Dervish borders
Of our home.
I remember a round boy in a square tank-top,
Can still see his tired legs urging on his metal steed,
Desperate to keep up with his big brother.
But then he grew, and with you by his side Jen,
He soared, out-paced us all, he flew:
Strength, courage, honour, dignity
His heart was brave and true
But mere words will never be enough
For the bravest man I ever knew.
Twice, self-less in his pain, he woke
To see me hurting by his bed
And twice he raised his thumb and winked
To say that all was well.
The sun rose cold-forged red that morning
The sky pristine blue and the grey crags boiled the cloud;
And Matthew waited for that day,
Waited for us, waited for his Mum and Dad to soothe his troubled brow
Telling him it was time to sleep.
Waited Jen to hear the soldiers on the hill
"Come brother, it is a good day to die
When the sun is shining and the mist is in the sky."
So look to your memories Jenny when the grief mist clears,
Remember your brave boy smiling happy
In the heartland of his years;
But I need you to hold onto this my friend
Because you know it's true
He called out your name Jen
Saved his last breath for you.

Pete.

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Matthew was the youngest of our three sons. He died of cancer on 15th October 2006, aged 41.
Jenny was his wife and best friend.
Peter, his eldest brother, wrote the poem to be read at the funeral.
Matthew was known as Bill to his many college friends.

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