Three Poppies – Chanel Charles

1918, a cold wind blows under the door chilling the whole room,

It’s refreshing, like a breath of spring air”,

Mother tells us though her teeth are clattering like the plates on the

floor when THEY raided the house.


Her lips are bluer than the sky on a clear day.

Her toes and fingers are a deep red, nearly purple.

She says it’s nothing, but I know she is lying.

I know I will have to let her go.


The rickety, rusty shed we call home,

blocks out the Seasons.

My friends, the bombs, my Dad.

Blocks out everything.

Everything except the realities of the War.



This year is severe.

Achingly cold, frozen and snowbound.

We only have the clothes we wear and some thin woollen blankets

to keep us warm.

No fire wood.

Food is scacer than money and the smile on my Mothers’ face.

We can’t leave due to the cold,

so we live off scraps of what we have.

Snow packs us in tighter than sardines.


Mother died during the winter.

Bringing grief and sorrow.

With nowhere to put her body, we bury her in the snow.


The war is flourishing like Springs Poppies.

Red, stunning and vibrant.


When the snow goes, they grow like my sisters’ hair over the past months.

Wild, tangled and overgrown.



Dad is back,

but not the same,

With Mom gone, he rarely moves.

He sits in his chair, by the fire, with no hope.


He no longer picks us up and thows us into the air,

Never hugs us, kisses us or tells us he loves us.

He hardly talks to us,

Except to scold or shout at us. There is no warmth.



Brings nowarmth.

Bruno is small and frail. Day by day he worsens.

A heavy fever is crushing his body,

he holds on and stays alive.


Victoria is sad and hollow. She barely talks.

No longer the bright, warm child she used to be.

Dad in his storm, rages about upstairs.

Ware not sure why he does this, but it chills us to the bone.


Mrs Engelman, our neighbour does all she can

to bring warmth into our lives.

She tells us stories of her childhood, of running through the fields

of poppies, days when she was happy,

days that will return with the Spring.

I smile politely, those days will never come again.



1939, the Germans have invaded Poland.

I am now 31 and still live in the same house,

with Victoria 28 and Bruno 23.

dad is gone, he left the house one day and never came back.

As much as it saddens me, the others are happy. I let him go.



1943, Mrs Engelman has been taken away.

She said it’s for the better, she says she will return.

But in her eyes I see Mother and know she is lying.

I reach out for her cold hands and hold them warmly to my face.

We are capable of fending for ourselves

so without trouble I let her go.


Everyday we fear of being overrun, bombed or shelled.

But then I think of Mother, Father and Mrs Engelman.

the three poppies I have let go.

I know we must go on.



May 1945. I sweep my eyes over the empty battlefield.

Germany has surrendered,

Many, many lives have ended. Many will now be saved.

Something catches my eye.


A single red poppy on top of a hill,

Red, stunning and vibrant.


As I walk across the field,

memories come rushing in, the return of Spring brings hope,

to a field of red poppies who are now at rest.

Chanel Charles, Grade 7


The Australian Children’s Literary Board published Chanel’s poem in Edition 3 of Oz Kids in Print and described her poem as an impressive literary work. Chanel is now eligible for the 2022 Young Australian Writer’s Award, we are so proud of her achievements and look forward to reading any work that she produces in the future. Grade 7 teacher Mr Phil Smith presented Chanel with her certificate and a copy of the magazine at the Grade 7 Town Hall.