As I mentioned last week, on Friday night I went to see Death at Dawn on its premier night at Wallsend Memorial Hall. The play was excellent, and I do promise a review soon, but since seeing it, I’ve been thinking a lot about WW1, which is odd for me, as it’s not a period of history I’ve ever really been that interested in. See, that’s how good the play was!
In 2014/15, I was part of a project called Beyond The Western Front, which ran a series of writing workshops focusing around the World Wars, and I came out of it with a number of poems. I’ve read “The girl he left behind” at a couple of evens, and it’s definitely my favourite of the ones I wrote.
The girl he left behind
The girl he left behind waved him off in patriotic taffeta; red, white and blue at the platform’s edge, dark with tears.
The girl he left behind wouldn’t have cared where her bathwater went, rose-scented, as she pampered herself for him.
The girl he left behind wouldn’t have known the Latin for ‘lead’, or where it might lead, when the men were out of town.
The girl he left behind would never have coped with the things he had to see, mud-spattered, desperate for the plumbing she now fixed.
The woman he came home to looked the same, and yet there was an edge to her, hardened, like her work-ready hands.
The woman he came home to knew her stuff, about U-bends and U-boats alike, and how one would fit into the other.
The woman he came home to knew what he’d seen, and how to help him forget, as they remembered what they still had.