My father picked wildflowers in Palestine

As we commemorate Easter and ANZAC Day, Good Samaritan Sister, Pam Grey, shares a poem about one of her father’s ‘lighter’ war stories.

From Athol Grey's book of wildflowers

From Athol Grey’s book of wildflowers

BY Pam Grey SGS*

My father picked wildflowers
In Palestine.
Pressed them
Saved them
Carried them
In the desert,
Across the Atlantic,
Through New Guinea mud.
He cherished them.

My father picked wildflowers
In Palestine
Because the war
Ceased the day
He and his mates arrived.
Not a shot fired.
Not a shot shirked
R and R for all.
My father picked wildflowers
In Palestine.

From Athol Grey's book of wildflowers

From Athol Grey’s book of wildflowers

Jesus could have seen them
Picked them,
Gathered them.
He could have.
Seed following seedfall
Cycle upon cycle
Until my father
Arrived in Palestine.
Happy to swap
Rifle for press
Fear for peace.
Happy to be alive.

My father picked wildflowers
In Palestine
And knew resurrection.


Editor’s note: Sister Pam Grey’s father, Athol Grey, served in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo during WWII. She says this poem is a record of one of his ‘lighter’ war stories when he gave her his book of wildflowers. This spring Pam will attempt to grow some seeds from one of the flowers.

* Melbourne-based Good Samaritan Sister, Pam Grey, is an adult educator in pastoral work and spirituality. She also volunteers as a home tutor for newcomers to Australia who need language and resettlement support.

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The Good Oil, April 15, 2014. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

3 Responses to “My father picked wildflowers in Palestine”

  1. Joan wharton says:

    Pam I just love the simplicity yet the intricacy of your poem and the connections it raises with what our parents pass on to us – not only through their stories and tangible gifts but also in their values, memories and humour. We grow from the “seeds” they leave us. Thanks.

  2. May we use this poem in our Anzac day services at the 80 mile beach here in WA.the beach where the service is held is between Port hedland and Broome. My prayers are with you and your sisters as you all gather

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