Poppies by Jane Weir

Three days before Armistice Sunday

and poppies had already been placed

on individual war graves. Before you left,

I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals,

spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade

of yellow bias binding around your blazer.

 

Sellotape bandaged around my hand,

I rounded up as many white cat hairs

as I could, smoothed down your shirt's

upturned collar, steeled the softening

of my face. I wanted to graze my nose

across the tip of your nose, play at

being Eskimos like we did when

you were little. I resisted the impulse

to run my fingers through the gelled

blackthorns of your hair. All my words

flattened, rolled, turned into felt,

 

slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked

with you, to the front door, threw

it open, the world overflowing

like a treasure chest. A split second

and you were away, intoxicated.

After you'd gone I went into your bedroom,

released a song bird from its cage.

Later a single dove flew from the pear tree,

and this is where it has led me,

skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy

making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without

a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.

 

On reaching the top of the hill I traced

the inscriptions on the war memorial,

leaned against it like a wishbone.

The dove pulled freely against the sky,

an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear

your playground voice catching on the wind.