From John’s poetry collection ‘Before, During and After The War’

John joined the Merchant Navy at the age of 16 and sailed from Liverpool in 1941

john finch author

North Atlantic 1942

Nothing you said
As your hand lost its grip on mine
And you drifted away into the cold darkness
The little red light on your lifejacket
Bobbing goodbye.

Sharing our sixteen years we‘d rarely if ever
Talked about the possibility of dying
Though from beneath the deck we stood on every day
High octane petrol perfumed the cold air
With terror.

Instead we had lived with wondering intensity
The amazing streets of Manhattan where we shopped in Macey’s
For fully fashioned silk stockings and cold cream
To shyly delight the cupboard-loving girls
Back home.

Now, more than half a century on, the young as we were young
Glance briefly at the carnage of the holocaust and once a year
Ignore the pageant by which we seek to perpetuate
The remembrance of your light as it fades
Into the darkness of history.

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