Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Ordinary Signal

Our Stitching the Wars project is centred around quilt-making. In satellite around the quilts are many poems and reminiscences about changes in rural life between and during the two world wars, but sometimes it's about being on the front: Here George describes a naval battle and the battle with language that dementia has brought:

Ordinary Signal

In those days 
In a battle
In a fresh air of bullets
Fighting in the water

Put in a uniform, pushed out into the sea
Given a gun to fire, a flag to wave
Ordinary Signalman
Stuck for words these days

If you take my life, war in 39
I was 18 years old, now I'm nearly 100
Irrespective of bombs
And things coming out of the sky

Always in Communications
I remember many things, but not in any
Particular order
A full alphabet in hands and fingers

The ship I was on HMS Mauritius
Me stood on top, 16 inch gun below
A Signalman is in the most danger
Naval battles are noisy, but

If the nurses gave you water
Thought you'd been given a gift
Young men of 18
Plucked from their family

People separately 
My brain isn't so good these days
I've stolen a bit of history

Hitting the ground with a bang
I'm talking about heavy guns
In a world that doesn't exist
All borders gone

I was Signalman, worked in visual situations
Passing messages all by hand
Signals taught me for A B and C
Now I'm stuck for words

1 Feb 2016

'Fresh Air and Poverty' quilt making in progress.

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