England: June 2016
I do not find much time to give
thought to where I want to live.
Like you, I wake to fluttered bills,
the doctor’s grimace, small white pills.
But like a plane which shrieks our sky
news shocks me into quiet. Then I
glimpse the far place I do want, not
where a brave woman crumples, shot,
is called a traitor because she
remembered Europe’s history
the ‘rubble-women’ my father saw
clear their homes’ ruins to the floor.
Each was rebuilt, chipped brick on brick.
That woman, with her bright lipstick,
felt cities shake, called, through our din,
we should take broken children in.
No one can ease her children’s cries
or warm her body where it lies.
But we can learn, chipped brick on brick,
how too much hatred leaves some sick,
makes others shrink back like a snail,
curl up at home, hear cries, but fail.
I want that place where Jo can rest
because we woke. We tried our best.
Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953 in Lincolnshire. She has published nearly a dozen collections of poetry since the 1980s. Her latest collection Skies (Carcanet 2016) was an Observer newspaper poetry book of the month.