After the war, Paris, December 9, 1918
April 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Hotel d’Iéna where the YMCA sheltered Canadian troops awaiting discharge papers after WWI.
My friend, Eleanor Morse, found this photograph in a Curiosity Shop in Parsonfield, Maine. The framed photo hung on the wall before my desk as I was writing, A Generation of Leaves, the book that was to become the springboard for the play Le Retour which will be performed this summer in Nova Scotia and, hopefully, in Belgium next year as part of events marking the conclusion of the Centenary commemoration of WWI.
Often, especially as I was reaching the ending of A Generation of Leaves and my spirits would flag, I would look up at the silent faces of those men, those ghostly apparitions from the past, those men who made it through the war to end all wars. They were going home and that was another story. They were going back to mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, to wives, to children, to lovers and maybe to no one in particular. But back, hopefully, to work, to fields or oceans, maybe to school, to life. But what did they carry within them, what stories, what visions. Look deeply into any of those faces and try to imagine. It shouldn’t be hard. Certainly we’ve had the practice having had so many wars since the one to end them all.