readers poetry

From Cradle to Grave

by Tara Kerry

She cradles her son, her heart filled with joy,
She always so wanted her own little boy,
She smiles as he gurgles and wiggles around,
Bursting with love at every new sound.

Oh he’s sweet and he’s mild and she’s sure he’ll be clever,
She just hopes that she can keep him this safe forever.

Now he’s a toddler all clumsy and wild,
Exploring and crying (a typical child)
He tugs on her skirts and points to the shelf,
Does he mean the toy soldier? She thinks to herself,
On the old wooden stool she carefully stands,
And reaches for the soldier with delicate hands.

To her precious child she presents the toy,
And quite suddenly he quietens, her little boy.

For years to come, this toy he treasures,
(And plays with it then guards it in equal measures!)

In the blink of an eye, the boy is nearly a man,
16 and determined to do all that he can,
Of his country he is proud and now eager to fight,
But too young to enlist, he sneaks into the night.

His worn out mother has begun to tire,
The note catches her eye as she lights the fire..

‘Dearest mother’, it reads, and it has to be said,
The following words did fill her with dread,
‘I am nearly a man and my duty it calls’
(Mother drops to her knees before she falls)
‘I’m sure I’ll be back, please try not to fear,
I’m strong and I’m young and my mind is clear,
I’m ready to fight, to defend this great land,
To die with my comrades hand in hand,
To provide a future for generations to come,’
Not you, weeps the mother, please, not you, my son.

In the trenches the boy’s mind begins to race,
It seemed liked an adventure to come to this place,
And now he is trapped, his boots caked in mud,
His comrades in pieces, blackened ‘cept for the blood,
With nowhere to run, his fate in God’s hands,
Did he at least do enough to protect these lands?
The last thing he saw as the sky filled with fire,
Was a small, ragged bird, perched on barbed wire,
The screams and the gunfire
were not the last thing he heard,
As he focused so hard on that sweet little bird,
Twas not its song he could hear, nor that of any other,
Just the fading voice of his dear, faraway mother. he
months had dragged on in a dark cloak of pain,
Oh, when would she see her young son again?

His 17th birthday was now drawing near,
Nothing was certain, nothing was clear,
Until one day, the hour unusually late,
A telegraph boy stands by the crumbling gate,
In his hand is a telegram, his face is downcast,
Shaking, she takes it, her heart beating fast,
As she reads it she’s engulfed in utter despair,
No wife will he know, no love he will share,
No sunrises he’ll see, nor sunsets, or rain,
Only she, who is left, will feel this pain.

The soldier that’d inspired him to become one himself,
Stood worn and faded on that small kitchen shelf.

Smiling sadly, the mother took it
and held it close to her chest,
It was, after all, the toy that he’d loved the best.

She thought of her son, and his heart which was brave,
And she wept, as she’d loved him from cradle to grave.