Bombed on the bandstand – Sheila Jacob

Bombed on the bandstand

You ask where I was and I will tell you though I didn’t hear
the full story on the day, my husband’s thirty-first birthday.
He travelled twenty miles to see me, brought our baby son
who cwtched against my neck as I bluffed about feeling better.

I wept when they left, had hours to moonwalk in the redbrick
Victorian hospital built for the insane where iron bars climbed
high windows, corridors cloned themselves, on-duty nurses
chain-smoked and outside, a moss-slimed grotto stood empty.

No beautiful Lady appeared, shone my path to the workroom,
distracted me from pieces of a furry toy I pinned and stitched.
Later, on the ward, Staff Nurse mentioned the news: London,
soldiers killed, horses maimed and I tutted, took my tablets.

Past midnight, her words wheeled across the bedclothes, echoed
at the hub of my own darkness; I lay quietly beneath half-light,
prayed for those bombed on the bandstand, prayed for the dead
to rest in peace, for the living to mend, prayed I would soon mend.


On 20th July 1982 the Provisional IRA detonated two bombs during military
ceremonies in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, London, killing eleven military
personnel and seven horses.

Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and now  lives on the North Wales border with her husband. Since returning to poetry in 2013 she’s had work published in The Dawntreader, Sarasvati, Clear Poetry, The Cannon’s Mouth, I Am Not A Silent Poet amongst others.

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