Footnote to History
Something my cousin said,
some footnote to history
like the Christmas truce in World War One.
Some story about my uncle’s minder
taking him for a drink
on their way back from the prison hospital.
But what amazed my cousin was
the German had un-strapped his gun-belt
and left it suspended from a hook.
Imagine the shadowy-lit interior
with its single bulb
like a moon three days shy of full,
the fug of fifty brands on smoke
pressing on the imprisoned air.
Imagine the double helix
from the cigarettes of friend and foe,
and the amber mugs of beer
shoulder to shoulder on the bar.
And hanging heavy in their cups,
the holstered guns at the edge
of the room. At the edge of my uncle’s eye.
Taking the reader on a journey from the historical to the personal, Michael Henry’s third collection, Footnote to History, charts the life of a man through two world wars and into the late twentieth century. Through the interwoven voices of the protagonist and a third-party observer, Henry explores the shifting tides of innocence, certainty and identity, capturing different eras with his acute ear for changing colloquialisms. He tells his tale with his characteristic gentle humour spliced with moments of high emotion that are never sentimental.
NOTE: The cover image was reproduced with permission by the then Chambre Hardman Trust. The archive is now part of the Chambre Hardman Museum, held in Liverpool by the National Trust.