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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A Memory of War

Torn from dream
and very like a dream:
two half worlds
telescoped as one.

Asleep, my mother next to me,
my bed made up downstairs
on doctor's orders.

A sudden shock,
a scream, a pang
of fear and stab of pain
that take the breath from me
and savage me awake -

and there's my father,
motionless,
limbs spread like some crashed eagle
breathless too, on top of us,

his hard, white Air Raid Warden's hat
skewwhiff upon his head,
his gas mask on his back;
thick rubber-booted -

and the ceiling coming down on all of us,
the whole world turning white.
One thing I do remember vividly...

No, not the missing ceiling,
that was soon put right.
The French doors to the garden:
six glass panels, leaded;

assemblages of diamond shapes
and triangles of glass, now curved with grace,
convex, concave alternately.
You might have thought they'd been designed that way.

"Blast do do funny things," my Granddad said.
I don't recall them
ever being different, after that.

The house, like people that I'd get to know:
among its many wounds, this one
that no one thought to heal.

*


This is my contribution for today to Writers Island's NATIONAL POETRY's Free Writing Month.

18 comments:

SweetTalkingGuy said...

I love the way your memory works, and so poetically put!

Stan Ski said...

Very vivid recollection of what must have been a harrowing experience.

anthonynorth said...

A deeply terrifying experience recounted with such grace. Excellent.

Carl said...

Wow. Dave you can paint a picture and an emotion with words like nobody else. Thanks for my daily dose of poetry.

David Cranmer said...

Harrowing, Dave.

Elisabeth said...

Ahh the powers of memory and imagination, Dave. Here they transecend three generations Wonderful work.

Isabel Doyle said...

I like the muscular words you have used: 'savage me awake' and your father like a 'crashed eagle' - fine words and a wonderful memory piece

elizabeth said...

A vivid, precise memory.
Such telling details about the French doors.

word verification:convex --obviously stolen from your post!

flaubert said...

Agreed, a very vivid memory, Dave. Nice choice of language for this piece.

Pamela

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

How true, things take a peculiar shape and this remains, and, yes, I have often wondered myself, nobody seems to care.
I would add that it happens that sometimes even many of those who remember and could think about "healing" that, after years forget or juxtapose the cause of the original change to others and the fog of time passing bends memory's ways.

The Weaver of Grass said...

This is as good as any war poem I have read Dave. Our writers. group are producing a booklet to sell for 5p at our 1940's weekend in Leyburn in July - I only hope some of the contributions are as good as this.

Rose said...

This one that no one though to heal - It is a typical child like thought that has been dragged through hell and back again. Well done, a really magnificient experience to read!

Windsmoke. said...

A walk down memory lane to a sad and brutal time for the planet. Haven't heard or seen skewwhiff mentioned for a long, long time my parents used to say it a lot :-).

lucychili said...

your memory
curving like the glass
lovely imagery

Mr. Walker said...

I was riveted, and then to have your Granddad speak in such a matter of fact way brought me up. And then that ending. I love those last two stanzas.

Dave King said...

SweetTalkingGuy
Thanks - I love the way it works, too - anyway it does, whenever it does!

Stan
Yes, mus have een, though in memory it isn't at all. Strange, no?

anthonynorth
Many thanks for that.

Carl
And as always, thanks for a much-appreciated comment.

David
Probably the most harrowing bit was not knowing for sure whether I was awake or still asleep!

Elisabeth
It's memory and imagination, they tell us, which make us who we are.

Isabel
A valuable comment, as usual, Isabel. Many thanks.

Pamela
Thanks much appreciated.

Tommaso
That is all so very true. Thanks for it.

Weaver of Grass
A really fabulous response that. Thank you so much for it. - Why only 5p the booklet? Sounds like you're underselling yourselves!

Rose
My thanks for a really useful and valued comment.

Windsmoke
Can't say I've used skewwhiff for a long time. I guess it was bundled up there with the memory somehow.

Lucychili
Thanks for that. It appeals greatly.

Mr Walker
Very many thanks for that. It has actually given me a new slant on the poem.

thingy said...

Oh my gosh, how frightening. Very vivid.

Dave King said...

thingy
It still is vivid, yes, but somehow the fright - which must have been there - has dropped out. Thanks for the comment.