Born In War (from "After D-Day")
is pleased to present the first five parts of Judith Barrington's
poem After D-Day.
Click for numbers: One,
...unless we can relate it to ourselves personally,
history will always be more or less of an abstraction,
and its content the clash of impersonal forces and ideas.
- Czeslaw Milosz
What does it mean to be born in war-to enter the fray
as Spitfires and Messerschmitts fall from on high
into the farmland I'll grow up to walk on Sundays?
does it mean to be born as walls fly
and live electric wires swoop to the ground,
sending their sparks up into the flak-filled sky?
inside my mother, I shudder at the sounds
muffled by the amniotic fluid:
the steady drone of Luftwaffe bombers, northbound
London, or banking to turn above the wooded
weald of Sussex and dump their bombs on the hill
or on towns where air raid shelters are dark and crowded.
planets line up, astrology holding its vigil,
but more is defining this birth than the lie of the stars:
an air raid begins, my mother frightened but docile;
explode and I'll enter a home that's at war.
They'll surround me with pillows on that first summer
but the screams of the wounded will root in my newborn
2006 by Judith Barrington