Jane Weir: Poppies (Anglo-Italian)

Jane Weir is an Anglo-Italian writer, designer and editor who grew up in Manchester and Northern Italy. She lived in Belfast for several years before moving back to England. She was joint winner of the inaugural Dawson Jackson Award for Poetry (2003) and her first collection, The Way I Dressed During the Revolution (Templar Poetry, 2005) was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award (2006). She has published a pamphlet, Alice, (2006) based partially on the life of the early twentieth century Derby political activist, Alice Wheeldon, who was imprisoned for allegedly attempting to assasinate Lloyd George.  and a short monograph on the poet Charlotte Mew. She is currently  completing a monograph on Katherine Mansfield, the modernist short story writer. Jane Weir's second collection, Before Playing Romeo, was launched at the Wordsworth Trust Summer Poetry Readings at Grasmere in October 2007. Her poem 'On the Recommendation of Ovid we tried a weasel' was the overall winner in the 2008 Wigtown Poetry Competition and 'Poppies' was published in the selection of contemporary war poetry commissioned by Carol Ann Duffy for the Guardian in July 2009.



by Jane Weir

Three days before Armistice Sunday
and poppies had already been placed
on individual war graves. Before you left,
I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals,
spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade
of yellow bias binding around your blazer.

Sellotape bandaged around my hand,
I rounded up as many white cat hairs
as I could, smoothed down your shirt's
upturned collar, steeled the softening
of my face. I wanted to graze my nose
across the tip of your nose, play at
being Eskimos like we did when
you were little. I resisted the impulse
to run my fingers through the gelled
blackthorns of your hair. All my words
flattened, rolled, turned into felt,

slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked
with you, to the front door, threw
it open, the world overflowing
like a treasure chest. A split second
and you were away, intoxicated.
After you'd gone I went into your bedroom,
released a song bird from its cage.
Later a single dove flew from the pear tree,
and this is where it has led me,
skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy
making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without
a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.

On reaching the top of the hill I traced
the inscriptions on the war memorial,
leaned against it like a wishbone.
The dove pulled freely against the sky,
an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear
your playground voice catching on the wind.