Home Front Book Cover
Who is the woman behind the glass?
What strange and elegant fingers she has.
The hands of a musician?
This is the cover of a new book called ‘Home Front’. It features full-length poetry collections by four women, myself being one of them.
What do we and our poetry all have in common? We are all mothers or wives of men who served in Afghanistan or Iraq, and who wrote poetry about how it felt from their experience.
When I first saw the book cover I thought, YES! ... that is exactly how it was. For seven months I lived my life as if there was a pane of glass between myself and the rest of the world. I did share my feelings with those close to me, but I did not really have any feelings to share as I had closed down emotionally because that was the only way I could get through and still be strong for my son. I remember one day, I think I was losing my mind, I started telling strangers on a train that I was on, travelling from Newcastle to Sheffield, that my son was in Afghanistan. I wanted to see the shock on their face. To know that it was real. That what I was living wasn’t a myth.
I lived in daily fear of a knock on the door and yet I was also afraid to go out or go away in case they came and I was not in. Later, after my son had returned safely, I read a book by David Grossman, ‘The End of the Land,’ that my friend, poet Elizabeth Barrett had lent me. In the book, a mother whose son is away fighting on the front, sets out on a sort of pilgrimage in Israel, to be away if they should come to her door and by so doing believes that it will then not happen. I understood her motives completely but was not brave enough to do the same.
Is the woman in the cover photo crying out for help or is she trying to feel her way tentatively through the glass to experience the pain of the world. At first I thought the glass was frosted but now I think it is clear glass that was painted over to purposely obscure it, as they did in WW2.
Why is she faceless? Does she choose to be so? So that people cannot see the pain etched on her face? Or is she faceless because her story goes untold.
Well, now the story has been told. The poems in ‘Home Front’ examine so many emotions: The remembering of these grown men as children, the fear of injury, the imagining of how their lives will be if they do return home. And if they do return whole, will that be the true picture, or will they have seen things that they can never un-tell.