Each year as the Remembrance period approaches, Peter Cundall, a regular visitor to Primrose Hill, reflects on the horrendous loss of young men’s lives in WW1 and WW2 that no appreciation, however heartfelt can replace. Why, he wonders, is there is no remembrance of the tragedy also wreaked on the women of those times. They helped save the country. Many were engaged or already married to young men who weren’t coming back, ever. Many already had children and became single parents at a time far more difficult than today. And with far less chance of finding another partner with the tragic loss of so many young men.
“Only if you care to, please read this poem aloud to one person who might sympathise with it. Even if they don’t like the poem, the subject will have had an airing, taken on a new life and who knows, maybe next year…. “
A Lifetime Ago
At the other end of a lifetime,
when her husband traded
City Desk for Flanders slime,
Granny, too, was brave; stood the test
with knitting needles engaged
so her man might face foreign nights
in a warm English vest.
She was knitting still when the telegram came.
It said little:
Black edging and a name.
And though a peace of kinds
arrived the following year, it was said
that peace did little to warm the
cold corners of Granny’s bed.
Only today, in the turning of another life,
does one small drawer of things
reveal how widow was once a wife:
a ring, some trinkets
and a woolly vest, never worn,
that lost its heart to a Flanders dawn.
Taken from A Little Neon from The Gods
11 Poems by Peter Cundall