When I was born, midwinter's night
no sound of revelries
filled Christmas streets, but marching men
And, as I grew, the bells of peace
besought us to forget
but men betrayed, with bitter hearts,
wrote my alphabet.
Then came the men in broken boots
and rags upon their backs:
at school they said we'd won the war -
we waved our Union Jacks.
The barren twenties dropped behind,
buds of my life uncurled,
film stars and dance bands, books and games cluttered my schoolday
The busy 'teen' years hurried on,
then came mid-thirties June -
when school was over, laurels won
and I reached for the moon.
My feet were chained to city streets,
on Sundays they walked free,
but the shadow of a swastika
followed each refugee.
Then once again the people bled
on land and sea and sky
and when at last the war was over
my youth had stolen by.
Dorothy Gibson (1915 - 2000) was a founder
member and former chair of the Southend Poetry Group. Her poems
have appeared in every issue of Southend Poetry since 1985 and
her influence on the group has been incalculable.
This poem is also included in her "Selected Poems",
privately published by Blackbird Books, Nottingham.