i.m. Doug Telfer, died 26 June 1943, aged 19 years
Zum-zum! The air shatters to shrapnel, white-hot, the compass spirals, the charts flake, and he is thrown from unrelenting close-cabined judder and thrum into the gape of night.
In that second’s freefall, above the wounded city, he can navigate no further forward, find no path across imagined blueprints of unbuilt bridges, beside his sweetheart and their never-born children.
Instead he reaches back, mapping through melting muscle, bone, feeling for warm eggs under backyard chickens, the Airedale’s downy muzzle, his baby brother’s cherub curls, reaches for the cool consoling fingers of his mother.