Homecoming

In the pleurisy of a winter’s morn

My love for you skitters down the cobblestones

Glides past the children sliding in the snow

Seeks to guide you home-

It knows no borderline.

 

So take the silver latch-key

from deep inside your pocket

Kick the snow off your dubbined boots

and step inside to me.

Your war is over.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

I wrote this a long long time ago. I wrote this long before Dave went to Basrah. I wrote this before I spent the long lonely nights sat on the kitchen doorstep with a glass of wine in hand- wondering if he would ever come home and if my girls would ever see their dad again.

My biggest fear was that he would die and would be alone in that moment of death in a foreign and hostile landscape.

He and those he served with must have had similar concerns and I know that sometimes when he went out on dangerous missions he would leave notes for us under his pillow in case he didn’t return.

In the words of Wilfred Owen:

“The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.”

Remembering those who have served.

As Armistice day approaches it seemed right to think about those who have served and it is the centenary of the end of the First World War. My Great grandfather served in the First World War, he was already a veteran and had served in the Boer War and had been injured. (See photo). He served in the First World War alongside friends and neighbours as part of Lancashire Fusiliers often referred to as the Salford Pals. At the age of 40 he joined 15th Battalion (First Salford Pals) and served for the duration of the war from 15-Oct-1914 to 10-Jan-1918.

This website has a wealth of information about the Salford Pals, they were mobilised to France in November 1915 and served in the Somme and were almost wiped out in the summer of 1916 in the conflict at Thiepval. He was awarded the Silver Cross in 1920. He passed away on November 19th 1926 aged 52.

war time memories project

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He was born in 1874 in Sale Cheshire but by the time he was 11 years old had moved to Chief St Salford with his family. He married Frances Taylor on December 14th 1901 and they had 8 children between 1902 and 1915, Frances, John, Henry, Hilda, Ernest, Frank, Arthur and Edith. The photo is of John, Frances and Edith.

 

The best birthday present ever..the forgotten soldiers.

You came home.

In May 2003 a large number of men who served with Lancashire and Cumbria Volunteers, formerly known as reservists of 4KOBR received compulsory call-out notices to serve in Optelic 2 in Basrah as part of the deployment of Queens Lancashire Regiment. They were a jolly bunch of souls from across Cumbria and Lancaster and this was the first time any of them had faced a compulsory call-out to serve in an actively hostile environment. They were given 21 days to sort out their families, their jobs and their affairs before departing from Alexandra Barracks, Lancaster at the end of May.

They served in gruelling heat in and around Basrah Palace and were on duty for a six month active tour. During that time they saw at least one of their officers Captain Dai Jones killed. It was supposed to be a peacekeeping mission but they faced hostilities on a daily basis and there was the constant threat of exploding IED’s. They were “butchers bakers and candlestick makers” and part-time soldiers, and yet they served admirably alongside full-time fully trained army personnel.

Their families back home also survived admirably with little in the way of active support and no garrison to back them up.

There were 2314 reservists called up for Optelic 2, made up of both volunteer reserve forces like LCV and regular reserve forces.

My husband was one of them. He was 41 years old and an HGV driver. We had just moved to the Isle of Man with our two small children.

He missed his children’s first day of school but he came home safe.

For years afterwards, he demonstrated hyper-vigilance but at least he was alive.

He still won’t talk about many of the things he witnessed.

But he came home.

Not everyone did.

They landed safely on Nov 7th (my birthday), and whilst it was another week before we got him home at least we knew he was safe and sound.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow.

He got four days leave- shown in the top photo and saying goodbye again at Ronaldsway Airport.

 

 

On the temple steps at Nan Tien.

Once upon a heartbeat

Your small hand held on to mine

Once upon a full moon

When the midnight stars did shine.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

My child I gave to you,

Everything my heart held dearly

My dreams and wishes too.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

You walked with head held high

You were brave enough to stand up tall

Your wings were strong enough to fly.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

I watched you stride away

Grown up, confident and brave

To make it your own way.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

for d’Verse.

For Ellen.

 

 

 

Light and shadows of loneliness.

As the day casts its long shadow homeward

I recognise that so much of it has to do with the light.

They say it is always darkest before the dawn and perhaps that dawn is the realisation that the fear, shame and guilt linger longest in the hours of darkness

and they dance and pirouette amongst the silhouettes and shadows to a tune that beguiles and steals the light.

We light candles, we whisper of hope and future happiness and draw circles in vain to cast aside the demons.

We crave love and long to belong to another so that we have a hand to hold in the darkness a kindred spirit to guide us through the pain and suffering and lamentable servitude to solitude.

Sunrise.

Night yields to day and despair drifts away and the endless ebb and flow brings us slowly to the shores of our halcyon dreams.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

This is my contribution for World Mental Health Day. I think loneliness is a huge issue for so many people young and old alike and I think the hours of darkness are able to bring/conjure up their own unique set of torments.

For those who struggle to sleep it seems a long night.

For my girls.

Submitting this for open link night at d’Verse.

Autumn Leaves.

It was the autumn of our lives

Russet hues and ochre through the views that held our gaze as we forged ahead unfazed by the onset of middle age.

We had a sense of calm and oakened wisdom that only comes with the passage of time.

A patience and forbearance borne of familial love and desperation for our children to rise and thrive on the highest tides and not to sink and flounder in the murky depths of the recession’s doom and gloom.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could survive with less.

It was the autumn of our lives and we could smile at more.

No longer was it critical for the opening of the door to our desires and dreams

We became content to be thankful for the pleasures we had already received,

We were able to give with genuine compassion and cherish the gifts however small of each new day.

A sunrise, the crunch of leaves underfoot, a hand held for a moment too long,

The smell of freshly baked bread, a fragrant rose as the raindrops spilled from heaven above.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

Scents of Childhood.

Lavender lush

Lulls to sleep

Creeps through seams in crisp new linen.

 

Scented sachets

Sandalwood

Smell of the orient in Nanna’s drawers.

 

Nivea and talc

Clean fresh towels.

Lily of the valley handcream and cheap eau de cologne.

 

Bonfire night

Sparks and crackles

Burned embers, toffee and smoke galore

 

Pine needles and frost

Gingerbread parkin, mince pie aromas

And freshly fallen snow.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’verse poetics, bit rusty have been out of the loop for a while.