He gave him flowers, didn’t seem enough
To shout goodbye and then just take his leave,
Shrug on his new jacket, the khaki rough
Against his eyes, the darkening sleeve;
Flowers that he knew were loved, a bouquet
He’d gathered early, tied with binding string,
And left there on the table before the day,
Left as a promise, strong as any ring.
Then watched and tended daily with such care,
Each petal’s fall a distant rifle crack,
Echoing and echoing from afar,
Each dead flower an enemy attack.
But one rose was found rooting in the jar,
And planted in the garden as a prayer.
This sonnet was written some time ago when I read an obituary of Maurice Sendak whose book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is a classic of children’s literature. It was the detail that he had lived with his male partner for fifty years that set a train of thought going,
‘What would it be like if your same-sex partner was called up in a war? How would you survive? Who could you talk to about it in those far off times? Would anyone recognise your relationship to be valid as a heterosexual one?’
If you wish to hear me read this poem, you can follow the link below, glorious music and production by Mik Davis