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.
Jane Weir is Anglo Italian and a designer by trade. Her first collection, The Way I Dressed During the Revolution, was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award in 2006 and she launched her second collection at The Wordsworth Trust on 2007. She was the winner of the Wigtown Poetry Competition in 2008 and her most recent innovative poetic biography, Walking the Block, was shortlisted and highly commended in the Literature Category of the British Book Design and Production Awards, 2009.
Jane has also written a pamphlet, Alice, partly based on the life of Alice Wheeldon, the Derby woman imprisoned for allegedly attempting to assassinate Lloyd George, and a short monograph on the poet Charlotte Mew. She is the editor of Iota Fiction, a new fiction magazine; the inaugural issue published in November 2009 featured previously unpublished work by two Booker Shortlisted authors, Tim Parks and Damon Galgut, alongside a selection of new short stories from upcoming authors and a reviews section. Her work has also been published in Faber and Picador anthologies.