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.”

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.

 

 

 

Banishing Demons.

He slayed the dragon, the sun shone he wiped the blood from the sword and went on his way.

For her that wasn’t the end of the story though.

She cooked him fried eggs for breakfast, ironed his shirts, darned his socks, plumped his pillows and waited for the debt to be done.

Paid in full – but it never was. She began to wish she had eloped with the dragon or that at the very least the dragon’s breath had scared away her knight in shining armour.

She began to wish she had reclaimed the night without her knight.

She began to wonder what dragon children would have looked like.

Perhaps she already knew-with their curly locks and their churlish charm and the devil may care attitude they had clearly inherited from their father not to mention their charming eyes of blue.

And all he had had to do – was slay the dragon.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Life behind the social lens.

No-one has a perfect life

The pictures tell a lie,

Beneath the sham of smouldering eyes

Bitter-sweet tears of reality hide.

 

The fairytale lives of our sociable friends

Might make our own story seem quite shabby

But beneath the pretence of glitter and glamour there lies

Some friends who aren’t always happy.

 

So if you see me smile at you

It sends to you good cheer

I know deep down your life may be as complex as mine

So it conveys love and compassion sincere.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Social media can fill a gap, strengthening some links and friendships but it can also set unrealistic expectations about what life should be like and somehow cloud our judgement of what imperfections we should learn to cherish.

I thought this picture summed it up perfectly.

Shout out to all those young people out there on World Mental health Day  October 10th who exist in a world that is beyond anything we could have imagined when we were your age.

 

 

 

 

Time passes.

Withered

Her hand frail against the withered fronds as she rearranged the flowers

For time had sold them short.

 

Joyful

Her youthful stance and gaze, as glorious bride in the gaily painted photo-frame

Captured in the stillness of time framed by the care-home mantle-piece.

 

Anguish

Forgetting fettered fragile moments of family-time,

Lost forever in the timelessness of a fretful mind.

 

Peacefulness

Her pain receding as the hands of time hold her soul

Serene against the backdrop of a moonlit sky.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

This for poetics at d’verse. We were asked to explore something we couldn’t touch. It is coming up for the 10th anniversary of my mum passing away and she never got to be old so she never experienced losing her memories.

Prodigal

Clumsy — awkward steps across the hall — Childlike stomps beyond the wall.

My heart skips a beat.

Is it you? Are you home?

 

Stealth — I meld with the shadows — I limber lithely behind the arch.

Eager to surprise you with my smile.

Are you near? Is it your footsteps I hear?

 

Shouts — call out your name — voice cracks through the silence.

We melt into each other’s arms.

My child is home.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

 

This is for d’Verse mtb.

If only …….