For half the month, old Johnny Eglantine
will swap his poppy for a sweetbriar rose,
and sit in Buckley Park in Sunday clothes –
same bench each day – until it’s time to dine.
At home, he lights a candle, pours some wine –
two glasses always – though he sadly knows
he’ll only drink the one, but so it goes:
he sits in silence for his Valentine.
Then on the fifteenth, when the candle’s died,
he’ll slide the poppy through his buttonhole –
he knows she sees him soldier on with pride.
He petal-wraps in pink the heart she stole,
and seals his annual promise with a tear:
he’ll wear a smile until this time next year.