THE AIR-RAID SHELTER
They carried the bodies to the football ground,
and laid them out in rows on the scuffed turf.
The injured, on the wards of the Prince of Wales,
could have stood at the windows, called
and winced in their dressings and slept and still not heard
their own name back. No hack, no recording angel
listed the missing for the Weekly Herald
or the teams to come, with their kit and their silver cups
and players escaped from continents where war
is more personal, machete, Kalashnikov.
They see whats next: girl searching through the streets
till a neighbour runs out and holds her; charred wood or brick;
and whats not said. After the ceasefire comes
a space of sixty years when you cant quite mourn,
but work and clean and shop and wash and cook,
meet friends, make love, look in on a child asleep,
then spot him in the crowd in the stands, singing
while heroes race and bellow across the pitch,
and skin and voice, invisible particles,
press deeper into the mud under thudding feet.
Published with permission: Copyright - Ruth Valentine -November 2008