Dear Mother, now I am no more
A fighting man, I warm the plates
And make some bugler black the grates.
We are all soldiers far from war.
The foremost object in our minds
Is blacking out the Scarborough lights.
I turn back from the sea at nights
To check the drawing-down of blinds.
Dearest my Mother, I can scare
The Mess by going to their dance.
They heard that I was killed in France.
Ashes and crumbs lie everywhere.
Doctors pronounce. I bow to them.
They tell me I am fit to serve.
War dreams return to every nerve.
We go on board at 3 p.m.
Now I have brought my lowing kine
Once more along this ancient track
I am not sorry to be back.
Tomorrow we go up the line.
In action now. My uniform
Is bright with someone else’s blood.
He fell across me in the mud
And he grew cold. My hand is warm
Enough to write DECEASED on those
I led. Dearest of Mothers, I
Begin to think I may not die.
The war is drawing to a close,
My own sweet Mother. Monday’s dead
May be the last. That crimson stain
Has turned to sepia.
Ever your loving son, Wilfred.
Send Letters To:
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
Please include name, address, and a telephone number.