previously published in Into The Empty Space.
A Second Anthology of New Writing by Word for Word,
London : New Gallery Books, 1999
Memory shredded to ticker-tape.
Which of us did this damage ?
Did my mother do it at the time,
did I do this as a child,
did she do it after Alzheimerís
erased any notion of who made
these photos & letters important ?
Half a photo; two and a half squaddies.
Is the one in the middle my father
before he was killed at El Alamein ?
The building in the background
could be in Cairo or Alexandria.
Did his friends die in that desert ?
Was there a woman in the other half ?
Perhaps these details were censored.
Letters in two or three hands will
not combine to make a sensible jigsaw.
What I can read is routine stuff;
insects, weather, insects, food, insects.
If whoever wrote these letters
had anything interesting or original
to say about killing their fellow man,
itís not in these fragments.
There wasnít enough of him to ship home.
After the War, Mum got the real story;
a wrong turn in the dark by the latrines
then he stepped on a Jerry landmine.
Mum said he couldnít do anything right,
always told me You're the same.
Now I can see the resemblance.
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