A Night at the Grosvenor

For Keith Douglas

I was young then,
and when his letter came
I laughed: 'They're all the same,
these boys on leave, they want a girl
to roll in their arms before they go.'
It seemed a game; I answered no.

He lived three days
after the landings.
A mortar took his head away;
his body, they say, was quite untouched.
Stitched in a blanket, he lay
alone by a French roadside.

I never cried for him -
not then, nor for all the long days
of other loves - but today
I am old, the years drift away
and in my dreams I hold
his breathing body close, between
The Grosvenor's pristine sheets,
and gladly give him all.

Sarah Willans

If you've any comments on this poem, Sarah Willans would be pleased to hear from you.