Monday, 7 May 2018

Small Change

We didn’t fight for freedom and
a land fit for homecoming heroes.
We didn’t survive rationing, air raids,
fire bombs, dog fights, death camps, the Blitz.
We didn’t wake up to the stars above us
and shards of splintered glass in our slippers.
We didn’t see the ghastly dust that hung
on the morning like a shroud.

We didn’t fight it but the war was as real to us
as our fathers and our grateful mothers.
We grew up in the sunlight of their great relief,
heard their terror in the telling of their tales.
We sucked it in with our National Health milk
and we learned that we were the future.
At school, we bought poppies for the fallen dead
and wore them with innocent pride.

We were – we are – the baby boomers:
though now we are a nuisance and a burden
then we were the tender young
for the sake of whom thousands had died.
When we were still in our nappies we were
plagued by doubt, and pregnant
with our parents’ expectations.
To be happy was our daily task.
Our business was to make things make sense.

Now as we grow older close in our hearts
we confront the grey ghost of our failures.
Did we douse the flame, drop the ball,
turn our backs on the fight?
We dared a while but then we slept.
When we woke we found our shiny new world broken.
Now hope spills out like so much small change -
and our pockets are bereft of our dreams.

© Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Millennials are struggling. Is it the fault of the baby boomers?

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley writes poetry and short fiction from her home in Penzance where the sea air and beautiful scenery keep her mostly on the right side of sanity.