Longlisted Poem 2013

Olivia Kershaw

Home educated

Off by Heart

The buttons on his coat
– I remember them.
Too well maybe,
But there you have it.

Remember when he told us
Said he’d signed up. Enlisted.
‘Doing his bit’ I think he called it
As if that makes a difference.

Each tear chas’d a
Raindrop path down his infant’s cheek.
In my mind I recall
His salt-wet sadness.

Remember the last time we saw him
A vision in khaki, he joked
Uniform crisp, hat tilted slightly to the right
His own tiny personal touch

The turn of his head
The sun catching his softly caramel locks
In glorious gold.
I see it now.

Remember the letters
Day after week after month
The scrawl of his hand in smudg’d black ink
Always ending: ‘I miss you.’

The half serious glint
In his green green eyes
Like grass in summer
Flecked with mischief

Remember when the post came
That blissful summer morning.
Dog barked (no surprise there then)
… And yet the sound won’t leave me

The kiss he pressed
To my forehead.
Inconsequential, maybe,
But not to me.

Remember reading his name.
Typed by foreign hands, stranger’s hands.
I don’t need to see his name.
Know it better than I know my own.

Those immortal words
‘I’ll see you soon.’
Unkept promises cut so deep
– I should know.

Remember when we saw those words:
KILLED IN ACTION STOP.
Don’t ever stop hurting…
That must be what they meant.

© Olivia Kershaw

Project Details

  • Date January 19, 2015
  • Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems