With much love for my Grandad, Thomas Clarke, born 1896, who fought with the Sherwood Foresters, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment 1914-1918
Show me a greenhouse
and I catch my Grandad’s face
turning, as he bends to his plants,
his calm back rounded away
from trench war and toil.
I recall his gentleness,
the pungent hothouse smell
of tomato plants and the soil
quick with growing.
Kindness itself, he was always quiet,
would sit smoking, stare into space.
A survivor. How was it to return, to carry
those memories to the end of your days?
He never spoke about it, except to say that
the pack-mules had to be attended to first.
He was sent home with trench fever,
which saved his life.
At the eleventh hour the guns fell silent –
on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
My Grandad’s birthday.