Terry Collett

Gold Star - 23,124 Points (13/12/1947 / LONDON)

Helen And You And The Truth - Poem by Terry Collett


Across the road
from the underground station
next to the Christian tabernacle
you sat with Helen

on the standing wall
of a bombed out house
she clutched her doll
Battered Betty

looking around her
I've never been
on this bomb site before
she said

the people who lived here
must have been really scared
if they heard the siren in time
they may have got out

but some didn't of course
you said
trying to imagine
what the houses looked like

before the bombing
how the gardens
may have been well kept
may have had vegetables

and flowers growing
in the small beds
at the back of the house
a lady my mum knew

got blown up
and all they found
was her hand
with her wedding ring

still there
Helen said
screwing up her nose
making her thick lens glasses

move on her nose
my mum said
she and her stepfather
used to hide

under the large oak table
in the kitchen
if they got caught out
by the bombing

you said
and Mum said her stepfather's bottom
was sticking out
at one end of the table

Helen laughed
you liked it when she laughed
it made dimples in her cheeks
and her eyes lit up

behind her glasses
best not tell Mum
I've been on the bomb site
Helen said

she said they're dangerous places
they are
you said
but hell what would life be

without a bit of danger?
what does your dad say
when you tell him
you've been on the bomb sites?

she asked
rocking Battered Betty
in her arms
nothing much

except not to wear
my best clothes on there
is that all?
she said

yes pretty much
you said
what about your mum?
you looked at her

her hair tied in two pigtails
her eyes large
beyond the lens
she says be careful

not to climb
you said
but you do
Helen said

you did it just now
to get up here
yes I know that
and you know that

but my mum needn't
you said
banging the back
of your shoes

on the wall gently
don't you tell
your mum everything
you do?

she asked
I do
you frowned
I try not to worry her

you said
doesn't she asked
what you've done or been?
yes but I needn't

tell her everything
you said
she has enough worries
without me adding to them

I think it best
I imagine other places
or things done
to keep her

from worrying
Helen shook her head
you have a strange
sense of truth

she said
holding Betty tight
to her chest
her chin resting

on the doll's head
how about an ice cream
at Baldy's​​​?
you said

she said
where is Baldy's​?
the grocer shop

before you get
to the railway bridge
down Rockingham Street
you said

the owner is as bald as a coot
she laughed
she said

and so you both
climbed down
from the wall
and walked down

and along
to the subway
and on to the shop
to get ice creams

she smiling
with her battered doll
you with your cowboy
shooting dreams.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 23, 2013

Poem Edited: Monday, September 23, 2013

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