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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Near Miss

The angel lay flat on her back
staring up at a pale blue sky.
I couldn't get over the shock - nine feet
she'd stood on her stockinged toes.
Her wings lay broken.
So many bits. Like headstones for dolls.
Just stuck in the grass.
The Churchyard Guardian gone - good as!
And a short way off, the House of the Dead.
Now a pile of old rubble. The wolf
had been round and he'd huffed and
he'd puffed and brought the house down.
The small mausoleum had folded. Collapsed.
Now they'd nowhere to go - the dead we
had feared. Apart from all that...
Relief. A result. Some headstones cracked.
Tipped over. All higgeldy-piggeldy. All
at odd angles - odder than usual, I mean.
It had been a near miss, it was said.
No houses had gone - except for the dead's.
Just stones thrown about, a smell here and there
that came from a grave. But nothing to save.

The engine had cut over us - or so
we had thought. Then silence and fear.
The wait for the bang. Seemed never to come.
Just the whine of hard steel coming down.
Then dust and white plaster. Just one window gone.
Some cracks. No disaster. Not as close
as we'd thought. The church and the school.
A row of small houses - long since condemned.
The pub and the shop. It just missed them all.
Fell where the dead went to ground.

My friend took a piece of the angel's wing.
I had a bit of the doodlebug's fin -
You can make out of that what you will.

12 comments:

Cloudia said...

My head is spinning with alternate versions of what happened!


Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

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tariq mian said...

no disaster is good news but a near miss was scary indeed.

♥●• İzdihër •●♥ said...

this is nice.

Jim Swindle said...

This is a compelling story. It reminds me of "The Portal of the Folded Wings," a memorial to dead aviators. I once lived in walking distance of the cemetery where it stands. Rumor said it had once been hit by a plane, but I think that was just rumor.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Haunting images...I am analysing "The Burial of the Dead" and "What The Thunder Said" from The Waste Land, for the students. The haunting level of your scenery is not far from that.

Ygraine said...

Such a vivid picture your words paint!
I could see the sights,
hear the sounds,
smell the smells
and feel the fear.
It was almost like recalling my own past.
Truly wonderful, Dave :)

Carl said...

Once again you paint images with your words Dave . I'm in awe of you talent and enjoy the journey on each poem.

Brian Miller said...

a near miss is a good thing far better than a direct hit...and taking momentos may help us remember...smiles.

Dave King said...

Cloudia
Sorry, I should have added a note explaining what a doodlebug was. It was the German flying bomb, a pilotless plane which flew until its fuel ran out and then fell where it landed. Totally random. People would listen for the sound of its rocket motors, dreading the moment when they'd suddenly go silent.

tariq mian
Right on both counts. Thanks for the comment.

Izdiher
Hi! Welcome to the blog. Thanks for your thoughts.

Jim
Hi, good to have you visiting and commenting. Interesting story. Sometimes the rumours come up with the best tales!

Tommaso
Wow, that's commendation indeed. Wish I could be one of your students!

Ygraine
And truly a great comment! Thank you so much for it.

Carl
Much thanks Carl. Your comments are always deeply appreciated.

Brian
Indeed. We had a few direct hits around us - including the Post Office at the rpecise moment my mother would have been in it had I not been home from school with Jaudice. But no direct hits on us!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wonderful imagery, Dave. Nice poem.

Mary said...

Quite a tale, Dave! I like the word 'higgeldy piggeldy.' Sounds so UK. LOL.

JeannetteLS said...

This brings to life images a friend of mine tried to recall for us. She was about ten during the war and lived in the country--the family left London in a hurry. Hers was a different story, but she did tell us what a doodlebug was.

This poem took me in a certain direction, as yours so often do, yet took a turn at the end that was unexpected. You have a talent for that.