Jo Westren: the Poet was a Nurse

ZP_Toronto sculptor Florence Wyle's memorial to Nurse Edith Cavell 1865 to 1915ZP_Toronto sculptor Florence Wyle’s memorial to Nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915)


Brief Sanctuary


You from the guns

and I from tending,

made love at an inn;


in a narrow room

were freed from war,

from fear of our fear,

made of our smooth limbs

our sweet love


each for the other.

In the empty saloon

drank then cool wine

and sang as you

strummed the piano.

When time moved from us

and we must go,

we drew our glasses close

on the bare table,

their shadows one.

Look, we said,

they will stand here


when we have gone,

images of ourselves,

witnesses to our love.

As we left

you smiled at me

lifting the latch,

then the bombs came…




Behind the Screens



I dress your wound

knowing you cannot live.

In ten swift rivers

from my finger-tips

compassion runs

into your pale body

that is so hurt

it is no more

than the keeper

of your being.

Behind these screens,


we two are steeped

in a peace deeper

than life gives,

you with closed eyes

and I moving quietly

as though you could wake,

all my senses aware

that your other self

is here,

waiting to begin

life without end.



.     .     .

Jo Westren, the author of these exquisite poems,

was born in Essex, England, in 1914.

During World War II, she served as a nurse at Colchester Military Hospital.

.     .     .     .     .