My granny’s elbow defied the Luftwaffe, caught a spear of molten shrapnel lead that ricocheted through the front room window and would’ve struck her cradled Betty’s head if she had turned that instant to the right.
That night in 1940, streets turned red with gales of flame. Lord Haw-Haw laughed there’d been “Easter eggs” dropped on Belfast. Next day the toll was near nine hundred dead – and not an anti-aircraft gun in sight;
But Betty grew. And mindful of that past she’d take the blunted shrapnel from a case where it was kept at her bedside, always near, and tell of how her mother’s love had shaped the stuff of war to bloodied souvenir.
Neil Young is from Belfast and now lives in north-east Scotland, where he is co-founder of The Poets' Republic magazine. His work has appeared in publications ranging from The Interpreter's House, Northwords Now and Prole to the anthology For the Children of Gaza (Onslaught Press), and has been selected for the next edition of the international journal Fulcrum. Neil's first booklet, Lagan Voices, a Belfast memoir, was published by Scryfa in 2011. A pamphlet of 14 sonnets, The Parting Glass, was published by Tapsalteerie in February this year.