War Effort

The young accountant at five feet four
was dogged, determined
in all his rugby playing.
Injuries to back and knees
not fully healing
worsened with his myopic eyes
lacking his thick lenses while playing.

In September 1939
Britain embarked on war.
The twenty three year old
tried to enlist with his friends
to serve his country.
The army rejected
his bad back and knees,
myopia and thick lenses
as did the navy and air force.

With the old men not accepted
for war he accounted by day
worked nights weekends at
the freezing works in season.
Long days and weeks for his country.
People talked, pointed him out.
An able bodied young man !
He should be fighting !

A white feather symbol of cowardice
arrived anonymously in the mail.

Desperately he applied yet again
to each of the armed forces.
Again they rejected his back
his knees, his glasses.
He returned to accounting
and the freezing works,
long days, weeks for his country.

Another white feather arrived.

After the war his friends’
long days and weeks
on desert and ocean
set them apart from
his long days and weeks
in office and freezing works.

His rugby days with
those other young men
never came again.

Previously posted February 2016.

War Effort