Remembrance Day Poem – As Life Goes On

Now, and Then

IKEA homeware packed in boxes,
Heaps of stuff litter the hall, then squashed into the back of the car.
Last hugs, cheery goodbyes, the drive to uni.
Snippets of home, spread around the strange smelling room,
The lanky excited-scared almost man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until she has driven away.

Billycans and clothes stuffed in kit-bag,
A train to London packed tight, then bustle hurry find the right squad.
Last hugs, tearful goodbyes, a band plays on.
Heaving the bag, look around for friends joining too,
The lanky excited-scared almost man says goodbye,
And the mother remembers.
She remembers the feel of the bowling ball weight on her hip when she carried him,
The feel of his tiny hands on her cheeks when he offered snotty kisses,
The snuffle of breath as he slept against her shoulder,
She remembers the child as she looks at the man.
As she wishes him well, holds back tears until he has joined his unit.

The posts on Facebook show new friends and nightclubs,
Texts assure his food is fine, his studies easy.
He doesn’t discuss the drunken evenings, the sleepless nights, the fear of loneliness.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

There are no letters and the News shows little,
Bold battles move to the Front, the headlines proclaim.
They do not discuss the fallen comrades, the sleepless nights, the fear of injury.
But his mother knows, she reads it in unsaid words and tired eyed photos.
And she waits. As life goes on.

The war ends. The boy returns home.
Yet, not a boy, become a man.
A man who will not speak of horrors,
Will not discuss the stench of death,
The sight of his friends, falling.
The nights when he still hears the screams, still fears the dark.
But his mother knows, she reads it in sunken cheeks and, eyes so weary.
And she waits. As time goes on.

The term ends. The boy returns home.
Yes, still a boy, almost a man.
A boy who chats and loves to amuse,
Loves to debate the point of life,
Who meets all his friends, laughing.
The nights when they drink, talk at length, sort their beliefs.
And his mother knows, he is safe and content with life, has a future.
And she waits. As time goes on.

by Anne E. Thompson