These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.
25 April 2011
My Dad never went to war.
Never had a hope.
Got run over by a cart at the age of ten,
spent years in bed, finally getting up
to walk lame, often with a stick,
always in pain, with a wound
that never healed, had to be re-dressed
daily — deep pink mercurochrome
painted on his white, exposed shin-bone.
He never went to war.
For Mum and me
he might as well have done,
sent away for months at a time
to a camp in Central Australia,
training for last-ditch invasion defence.
When he came home, I ran in fear
from his loud male voice, and didn’t understand
being banished from Mum’s bed.
He told me years later
that his best mate and next-door neighbour,
handsome Maurie Lightfoot,
was his Sergeant there. (What,
I wonder, was his disability? Maybe
eyesight; something invisible.)
Instead of ‘G’day Rob! How about a beer?’
it was, ‘Stand at attention, Private Robinson!’
Back home, they returned to normal.
Dad's workmate, Allan Beecroft,
that gentle, friendly man,
he went to the war. He was
a Rat of Tobruk. Afterwards
he spoke of it very seldom.
He respected Rommel, he said.
And he told one story, of a man
who ‘put up his arm’, never used it.
It wasted; he got sent home.
I remember ration books,
men in strange clothes (uniforms)
and the doll I loved and still have,
Julie with the rag-stuffed torso
and plaster hands, feet, head.
My Mum cried to have to give me
such a cheaply-made doll
but I had nothing to compare;
to me she was beautiful.
My Dad never went to war
but the war was all around us.
In the absence of men of fighting age,
women were surviving for themselves.
No-one’s life was untouched.
Our Foreign Minister is remembering now
on television, speaking from France;
and my husband, who never went to war,
listens with his shoulders shaking.
(Not part of the letter poems I've been doing this month; inspired by a friend's Anzac Day poem.)
Submitted, 8 June 2014, for Poet's United's Poetry Pantry #205