Poppies - Jane Weir (b. 1963)

Poppies - Jane Weir (b. 1963)

CONTEXT

  • Poppies have been associated with war and rememberance since WW1.
  • The words 'Armistice Sunday' refers to November 11th.
  • Note Biblical reference ("the top of the hill") = Calvary, the hill on which Christ was killed.
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Stanza 1

Three days before Armistice Sunday

and poppies had already been placed

on individual war graves. Before you left,

I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals,

spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade

of yellow bias binding around your blazer.

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Stanza 2

Sellotape bandaged around my hand,

I rounded up as many white cat hairs

as I could, smoothed down your shirt’s

upturned collar, steeled the softening

of my face. I wanted to graze my nose

across the tip of your nose, play at

being Eskimos like we did when

you were little. I resisted the impulse

to run my fingers through the gelled

blackthorns of your hair. All my words

flattened, rolled, turned into felt,

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Stanza 3

slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked

with you, to the front door, threw

it open, the world overflowing

like a treasure chest. A split second

and you were away, intoxicated.

After you’d gone I went into your bedroom,

released a song bird from its cage.

Later a single dove flew from the pear tree,

and this is where it has led me,

skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy

making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without

a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.

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Stanza 4

On reaching the top of the hill I traced

the inscriptions on the war memorial,

leaned against it like a wishbone.

The dove pulled freely against the sky,

an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear

your playground voice catching on the wind.

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Key Quotes to Learn

"Sellotape bandaged around my hand,/ I rounded up as many white cats hairs as I could" - lots of references to war shows that it's on the back of her mind. As she helps her son to get ready, you can see that they are both only human.

"All my words/ flattened, rolled, turned into felt" - trying to hold back tears.

"On reaching the top of the hill I traced/ the inscriptions on the war memorial" - reference to calavry, Jesus died on the top of the hill, suggesting that her son is making/made the ultimate sacrifice.

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