Jolly to Mother

“May 30, 1944 Waiting patiently for news. Dad plays cric[k]et
again. Weather so hot. Are you well, Dearest? Peter well, but wants
news of Jolly. Love, Mother [from Changi Prison]”

June 30. Dearest Mother, I’m well.
Knitted a pullover
Since your last card.
Good to know Dad taking wickets.
I hope his knees hold out.
Give him a hug and Peter too.
Is Peter taking medicine? Will send more.
Maybe the war will end by December.
Maybe you could wear the pullover I knitted.
Looking forward to seeing all of you again.
Do you have enough to eat?
Meat pie recipe clippings
Await you at home.
Praying for your peace of mind and health.
The parish is offering masses (it’s in the Bulletin).
Rain falls non-stop on the roof.
I’m tending the mint plants, keeping away
Strange, slant-eyed cats that pop out of nowhere.
The corridors have a hollow ring.
Tears stream down Aunt May’s wrinkled cheeks
When she tells stories and jokes about you.
Maybe the war will end by December.

by Eric Valles
from After the Fall: dirges among ruins (2014)