I imagine you standing there on the platform
with your label and your gas mask strung over your shoulder,
excited to be travelling, chattering with friends.
Then tearful, startled at that first shunting movement
as the train judders, gasping steam, pulling you away from home,
away from the blitz and the bomb laden skies over London.
I still have your label, posted back from Northampton,
the first hard evidence reaching my Grandparent’s doormat
of your safe arrival in unfamiliar lodging, such a gap of waiting.
Now when I locate a sudden departure in my life,
where the present state of things demands a moving on,
I pray to that little evacuee, the Mothering all latent in her
child’s womb, yet to be born from war’s labour and my delivery.
Now, again, you have been evacuated and I have received
no hand-written label, no assurance of your safe arrival.
What do I tell your Grandchildren still missing the woman
who sang them songs from the war, with calm assurances of peace?
Is it perhaps that the lengthening gap of absence, the empty chair
that must have filled your own Mother’s Willesden terrace
and now sits in the corner of our unvisited Sunday afternoons
is your presence, rendering our deliveries and departures hopeful?
Does absence becomes presence, a sacrament of holding—
latent as I evoke you now and a young girls hand slips into mine?
From ‘Arriving in Magic’ for National Poetry Day – Buy a book of poems and read one a day – if you want one of mine – www.adriangrscott.com