Terry Collett


Beside And Beyond


bombsites to explore
more ruins to climb
more places
to hide and seek

and you showed Helen
around the place
finding a way through
the wooden hoardings

put up to keep kids out
and she stood
gaping around
and said

gosh isn’t it big
and to think
that people lived here
and maybe died here

and she clutched
her doll Battered Betty
in her arm protectingly
and you with your catapult

in the back pocket
of your jeans
showed her
into what was left

of a house
climbing the wooden stairs
one wall missing
blown away

the sky visible
through the hole
in the roof
and she in her flowered

washed out dress
climbed gingerly
behind you
talking about what

her mother might say
if she knew
saying how her mother
would wag her finger

at her and say
don’t go in those bombsites
they are dangerous
in one room

was a lopsided picture
still hanging
and there
in the wooden floor

a gaping hole
showing the cellar
two storeys below
she gripped your hand

with hers her other hand
clutching Betty
pressed tight
to her chest

and she said
what would
your mother say
if she knew

you were here?
she won’t
you said
what she don’t know

will do her good
less to worry about
and from the top room
of the house

you could see
the tabernacle
in the early morning sun
feel the sunlight

seeping through
on your face
and Helen said
she was scared

and could you go down
and so you went
back down the stairs
she gripping you tight

Betty hanging
by one hand to Helen
the smell of dust
and old tramp’s pee

and damp wood
and bricks
and London still there
despite old Hitler’s tricks

with bombs and fire
for you to wander
and explore
and taking Helen

carefully
went out the door.

Submitted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

the tabernacle
(evangelistic not catholic)
was one of the biggest

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