She sits, her embroidery on her knee
A usual late afternoon activity.
Her needle is poised just above
The curl of the ‘J’ and the heart of love;
And here it stays, static, not flitting
Over the canvas. She’s staring, sitting
By the open window, no expression,
Simply cold, dead eyes. Today was their mission.
He’d written to her, so proud to be chosen,
Leader of his regiment; a dozen
Or so new recruits besides.
Their rifles and bayonets, gleaming at their sides.
So full of victory and honour;
The nation’s hope, until they turned the fatal corner
Into the Hindenberg Line. An impenetrable fortress
Of barbed wire and mines. Tears splashed on her dress.
The news had come an hour ago.
She’d sat, needle dead. How could she sew
His initials, without creating his obituary?
How could she continue in this place of safety,
Now so hollow and empty. Perhaps it wasn’t true;
He’d be home, like he’d promised, in a day or two.
She picks up her neglected needle at last
And creates for him, in the pain of love, his epitaph.
- Susie Flintham