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withdrawn under a kitchen table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.