Two poems by Sheila Jacob

Why I’m not a G.I.’s daughter

She didn’t mention his name or where
they met, if he wooed her with candy,
nylons, Saturday nights at the movies.

Did he whisper honey child, waltz her
to Moonlight Serenade, slip a diamond
ring on her finger when she said yes?

Did she save coupons for dried eggs,
flour, margarine, ask her mum to bake
the cake, sew a butter- muslin frock?

All she’d tell was the story’s end, how
she couldn’t leave her dad, big sister,
brothers, the mum she adored; wouldn’t

turn her back on the city she’d always
known, rooted me in when she married
a local man after the war, restored me

to my future as the daughter of a Private
who’d served in the Royal Engineers,
learned a trade, found a well-paid job.

The daughter who heard her say I was
engaged to a G.I.in my twenties though
didn’t love him the way I loved your Dad
.

*

Something to remember your Dad by

Your sister writes and yes,
unwrapping the leather purse,
inhaling its sharp sweet fibres
I remember your Villa scarf
draping claret and blue
around the cubbyhole peg.

I remember your slippers,
overcoat, a crumpled hanky
that fell from its sleeve
all parcelled in tobacco-tang
long after you’d smoked
your final cigarette.

This purse you made
during the war, convalescent
from the pneumonia
that almost killed you.
You scored and stitched it
for your own Dad,

brought it home one weekend.
Perhaps he used it straight off,
counted coppers onto the bar
of the local and you shared pints,
Woodbines, family news, the air
a sharp sweet fug as hours slid

away like beer down a glass.
Sunday came before you could blink,
the purse warm in his inside pocket
and you on Snow Hill’s
sandbagged platform waiting
for the night train’s judder and hiss.


Sheila Jacob has three children, five grandchildren and lives with her husband in North Wales. She was born and bred in Birmingham and feels drawn at the moment to write about her childhood and  working-class background. Her poems have been published in a number of U.K. magazines and webzines.


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