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Doodlebugs

C10/V-1

C10/V-1

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withdrawn under a kitchen table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.