The Seahorse and the Crab

The Seahorse and the Crab

Gone. They are all gone now.
My last uncle has passed, as they say.
With his generation, he has gone away.
Faces, voices, times, songs,
pictures on the screen, they shared, loved,
now forgotten, but no, not yet, not by me.
Peace. Space. Silence. Nothing there.
No trace of faces in the air.
From this, whatever life is, they are free.
No, but they did not want to go.
They wanted to stay.
To gather in those rooms,
to be and see each other again.
Child at Christmas, family gatherings,
aunties, uncles, so many.
Now the last of them has gone.
“O, quick. Under the stairs.
Hide. Here let’s shelter.
Come on,” my mother urged me.
Still at school, but I knew,
outside, was only thunder.
“You see, being a port,
Liverpool was bombed a lot during the war,”
my father explained.
“Your mother thinks the bombs
are dropping on her streets again.”
My face pale, I knew,
I could not save her from the thunder,
could not save her from the lightning,
could not save her from the war.
Wanted to turn her towards wonder,
the waves breaking on the shore.
The war. In low, cold tones
that cried with hurt and dread,
they spoke of it, the grown ups,
stood tall around me.
So much hidden, never said.
Had no idea why it had started,
how long it had been over.
Now all of them are gone.
Thank you, I never told them.
Thank you, I say now,
for helping to save us
from what you endured
you called the war,
for allowing me to search
for the seahorse and the crab
with my plastic spade and bucket,
to chase the wind to the waves,
climb the sand hills, laughing,
run freely on the shore.

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