There is my mother on a flagstone floor, curled around her smaller sibling like a foetus,
a tortoise withdrawn under a kitchen table hoping the whine won’t stop, praying the bombs don’t fall

as she clutches the shreds of her dispersed family. This is my mother in London, fourteen,

a Scottish evacuee of the inferior kind, a skiv to the household mistress, a child mistress to the household father.

The whine stops, a bomb slams next door, she shudders with the trembling house, shakes in time with her brother’s fear.

These are war-scarred children who cower under flimsy wood, grasp each other

as their mother sobs alone in Fife, as older brother and sister cry elsewhere, a family fractured

by screaming doodlebugs.