THANK YOU, ELAINE!
A True Story
I walked home from school;
Not wounded, not bereaved,
Just a drab English schoolgirl.
Five years of war
Had meant no clothing coupons for
And I was certainly frivolous.
I was fourteen.
My mother had lengthened
My older sister's dark green dress,
Of different colours at the hem,
As I grew.
I had been wearing it 'for best'
For three years now.
Otherwise I wore my navy-blue serge skirt,
White shirt and lisle stockings;
My school uniform.
Was it any wonder I dragged my satchel
As I entered the house?
And then I stopped......
Where are you now, Elaine?
You must be an old lady,
I wonder if you even remember sending
The Food Parcel.
You were on the other side of the world
It seemed a place of magic
Untouched by War.
You were, briefly,
My Pen Pal.
And you had sent me a dress!
Never again in my whole life
Would I see mauve gingham
The frisson of excitement
That I felt when I first saw it.
My Mother had opened the Food Parcel
And she had found the dress
On top of the biscuits and canned fruit.
She had laid it over the back of the arm-chair.
I circled it,
I think I stopped breathing.
Immediately, I fantasised
If this glorious object were really mine,
I would wear it with sky-blue sandals,
And my skinny white legs would tan.
And boys would look at me
And realise that I was beautiful!
My mother came into the room.
'Is it for…..?' I said.
It was crisp cotton,
With a frilled square neck-line,
And a skirt that flared slightly.
It was the most beautiful dress in the world.
Sixty-three years later
'Thank you, Elaine.'