Air Raid

A curly jigsaw sky,
protrudes from the edge of dawn,
overlapping this new mown field.

Blood knocks inside veins,
thumping my eyes to attention,
walking them down
some creaky gang-plank
into a black pit no-mans land,
I can see between
decaying chained gates.

A possible six, hits home, maybe more,
but first school memories slant down
in sketchy rainbow sprays, as I stand,
scared of the air raid shelter steps.
Wondering why the bigger kids
slip in, and relive forty-four.
Caution: Danger!
And the years above spoke,
spoke in threats of bodies,
a shrapnel tomb, only safe for tens,
roof already caved in, my history sunk.

Forty-four again, and reading
my childhood birthplace signposted,
I steer fast and true, past iron railings,
trampled flower beds, squandered enthusiasm,
tarmac drive, sports field,
nut brown slatted buildings,
and imaginary chalk lanes, for each child’s race.
Then there, set into an old classroom floor,
tiny plywood chairs.

How small I was.

And walking back out
through my invisible diary,
face starched with tears,
I climb back into today's cockpit.

by Jerry Pike

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