SUNNY SATURDAY AFTERNOON. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Poem - Friendship Bookmark and Share


The sun shone bright
on the Saturday afternoon
as Helen put her doll
Battered Betty

on the bombsite rubble
off Arch Street
near the coal wharf
and sat down beside you

(crossed legged)
at the bombed out ruin
of a nearby house

wonder what it felt like
being bombed?
she said
I mean

one minute
you’re trying to get
the kids to sleep
next minute

a ruddy great bomb
blasts you all
to Kingdom Come
you offered her

a sweet candy cigarette
from a blue and yellow packet
don’t know
you said

but my mum said
that when she was home
with my gran
during one bombing raid

they hid under
the kitchen table
with her baby niece Carol
Helen sat opened mouthed

her hand holding
the hand
of her battered doll

you went on
my mum’s stepfather
( her dad having died
from TB in 1936)

was under there too
but my mum said
he had his backside
sticking out

from under the table
as if
that was unbombable
Helen laughed

and so did you
bet it was horrible
to be bombed
she said

but I would have hated
being evacuated
from my mum
even for a day

she sucked
on the sweet cigarette
held between two fingers
and stared

at the ruin
with half a roof
and two walls standing
revealing wallpaper

on the inside
of one wall
my gran said
 you continued

an old couple
next to them
on hearing
the air raid siren

began to run
toward the bomb shelter
in the garden
when the old lady stopped

and the old man said
what you looking for?
my teeth she said
and he said

they’re dropping
ruddy bombs
not mince pies
Helen spluttered

into laughter
almost on choking
on the sweet cigarette

she said
I near wet myself then
and she clutched her doll
to her chest

patting its back
there there Betty
she said
it’s only a story

and you looked
at her small hand
tapping the doll’s back
the fingers tight together

love in each tap
a good mother
she’d make
you thought

with schoolboy love
looking at her profile
the thick lens

the plaited hair
and her small hand
going tap tap
on the back

of the battered doll
in her flower skirted lap.

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