GOT a poem you would like to share with Army&You’s readers? Send it, preferably along with a photograph, to deped@aff.org.uk and we’ll feature it in Well-versedIsabel Palmer describes her experiences as the mother of a young Rifleman deployed to Afghanistan, who was a Lead Scout and whose main role was to search for IEDs.


 

BFPO

You ask for fifty pounds

for boots: second-hand, worn in, broad

as camel feet, to roll away dust

like a third eyelid. I speak wishes,

drop silver into wells.

 

You long for body spray, manly vetivers,

heavy as church windows, of smoky leather

and cigars, stronger than your

greenhouse air when poppies lean

their heads against stained skies. I send

cool crystals to grow snowmen, mistletoe,

Christmas trees.

 

You want magazines with cars, workouts,

gizmos and photographs of Rio girls

whose skin must smell of oranges

and limes. I send you Windsor Castle,

Westminster, Big Ben, Churchill’s beaches,

sunny uplands, speeches and I vow to thee,

my country, all earthly things above

on postcards.

 

So, when you ask me what can mend

the pulsing in your ears, the mousetrap snap

of each grenade, the rifle’s nibbling

echoes of the nearest bullet yet,

I send you cheese, beef jerky, protein bars

 

and think this must be how it feels

to be looking at a rainbow as a child

steps in front of a car.

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