Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guest Poem: 'Special'

Today we have a guest spot, with a poem by Ross, kindly supplied in return for the gift of a Moleskine notebook last year. When asked if we could publish a poem or two, Ross said: "I've thought about it and would be delighted, so I'm including in the body of this email the 'latest' draft of 'Special'."

So, dear reader, here we are.


I'm down at last – through squelch

and patronising signs –

'Landowners Welcome Caring Walkers' –

to find him at the bus stop.

He 'likes my bonnet' (the

Ashes sunhat you gave me, Son)

and straight off I know he's military –

and the accent isn't Yorkshire –

'Canadian –

Army man – World War Two…'

'You must've been young!'

'Eighty-five. Work with young folks.'

As if that explains something!

I guess I must look…

interested, so the conversation…

lecture – let's be frank – it's

after all his job now: 'Historical Speaker on

Army Matters'… well, whatever it is, it

continues on the bus all the way down

to the grey-brown valley foot!

When he dings to alight, I've

heard about his First Special Force

experiences, seen his personal,

engraved medallion on a delicate

gold chain around his seasoned

neck, and we've agreed the kids

just need to be 'taken there

with words' and how you have to 'be

careful putting it right' –

they'll understand in time that

'sometimes questions can't

be answered': If Wilhelmina –

'Smart-arse kid, sometimes the girls

are just as bad…' asks

'Did you kill?' she gets to stand in for

the man who knows and

answer for him –

'Do you want to tell these kids you killed their…






'By the time I get to "Uncle" Wilhelmina's

usually in tears.

All that stuff's mine to know

and live with. Nobody knows –

not family, not friends…'

But as he tosses a jaunty salute

past the bus window from the pavement,

I know.

Ross Kightly

Images: Top - Yorkshire bus stop; Halifax station at the bottom of the hill and descending mist.Both Bev. 'Here you are - don't lose it again' victory & peace in Europe, by Zec, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth, James.

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