by Shirley Assaf
I was born into a world of women and old men. My lullabies? Sirens, Vera Lynn and grave adult voices on the wireless. The sound of feet running fast, gritty steps, heads bent low to receive the casual benediction of life or death. The smell of high summer is replaced by damp cement. I am safe, cocooned in blankets, milk, love and women’s arms. In a year I will reach out and touch in wonder the roughness of khaki and bristles, meeting a father’s love.
In another land far away and thirty one years later carrying my youngest daughter I shepherded my children down gritty flights of stairs as explosions ripped our lives to shreds. We sheltered in a basement that smelled of damp cement.
Shirley Assaf now lives in Berkshire and spends her time thinking, writing and dreaming of other days and other ways.