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II

It's the closing months of the war that the second film draws us into. September 1944 to be exact - the month of my conception. It is the 3rd; five years to the day since war was declared, and what will be, in three years time, and in another country, the birth of my sister. But today, Timothy comes into the world; Timothy, who, like myself, was already a part of the war before he was born.

We meet Goronwy the miner, Alan the farmer, Bill the engine driver and Peter the wounded airman.

When will the war end? Some say by Christmas.


blood-speckled ground
broken and still
a bird dropped by the cat

In Arnhem the men drink rainwater from their capes.


the birds drink from a puddle
wind shakes the leaves
and nearly drowns them


Timothy is baptised, there's too much rain in the mines and Goronwy breaks his arm in an accident. The fields are flooded and Alan on his tractor struggles to plough through the mud. Bill carries people through the waterlogged countryside and Peter's leg is on the mend - soon he will fly again.

They're clearing the beaches of rusting landmines. Soon there will be nothing between Timothy and the sea. He's safe in his pram, away from the capital, as the flying bombs hover over London. But I am there; growing quietly, as my parents pray the silent menace won't drop on us; as Dame Myra Hess, at her Steinway, plays German music to the empty frames of the National Gallery.

The Home Guard stands down, there'll be no invasion but when will the war be over? Not by Christmas for Christmas has been and gone. At New Year the toast is to 'absent friends'.

A third of the houses in London have been damaged. People wonder what peace will bring; will life return to what it was before? Women queue - queue and knit, queue and sing. As they fill their bags with coal, the Red Army rapes its way through Poland to Berlin. Europe is being changed for ever.


shoeless she flees with
her world in a pram
are there leaves still on the trees


My mother knits for me; I shift to make myself more comfortable. Not long now.


she turns in the sea
in search of the June sun
she struggles down the tunnel.

shoeless.jpg

photo The Imperial War Museum


Anne-Marie Glasheen 2005