There’s before and after, and now is
the space in between. A marker for both
Image by Gavin Mackintosh via Flickr
carrying great expectations.
“How are you,” takes pause
“What’s up,” takes days.
Now is hard to swallow
like gorge in my throat when
the Doctor called back.
I made bold statements about God. Before.
plastered bible bandages on gaping wounds oozing
with strangers blood.
begs the question,
Digs for God in the muck,
eyes squeezed shut.
through clenched teeth.
Morton H. Cook, Royal Air Force. 1916.
Morton was the brother of Sgt. James Hislop Cook, my Great Grandfather.
Morton was killed in Belgium, 1918.
My Grandfather’s father, Sgt. James Hislop Cook, A Company, 20th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. 1914 – 1919. Photo taken in 1918.
Note the insignia on his lower left sleeve.
CROSSED RIFLES: The crossed rifles identify him as a Marksman. This qualification entitled men to an extra allowance, which was welcome for poorly paid soldiers. Marksmanship qualifications had to be re-earned every year.
THREE STRIPES: These stripes are commonly known as “wound stripes”, and are rewarded each time a soldier is wounded in combat.
Thanks to my brother Joel for the use of these family photos and the explanations of their meaning.
February 14, 1916. (Valentine’s Day)
Just another card to your collection. Hope to find yourself in best of health as this leaves me well and looking forward to being with you very soon now – kindly Geo [his brother, George, also a soldier] was asking after you all, best wishes to the barnes [children] and not forgetting my wiffie, lots of love from your own husband Jim
’till we meet again lovy