normally I cannot tell
my two keys apart
in the dark, but this drug-fuzzed morning
Front Door gleams like silver
like something worth having
like one step away from the warmth of walls
four walls and a ceiling and a door
that lets you shut out all the judgement
– I mean, all the people –
a nest you didn’t even have to build
with your own two paws
yet here you are, stumbling inside
like you own the place
barely able to stand
on your own two legs
silver handed down
put money in
force a twist-
but their tears taste pretty much
Blow out candles and think unspeakable things. The wish that someone had been there sometimes: company along treacherous paths. To record the sharp looks, words, sting of injustice, of your hand across my face. An archive of proof, as the past recedes into a blur like train window scenery. Not to rub in your face – to show you, help you understand. It’s not about revenge.
At the gates, helpless loyalty waiting for hours while disillusion darkens the playground and everybody else, even the caretaker, has headed home. That little kid walking at your side, keeping a cautious distance. If you could taste the rejection cooking at high heat in his head, could feel the words stuck in his throat like a chicken bone killing a puppy. The two of them aren’t talking. His tongue isn’t bounding across a hundred miles of excitement a minute like any normal kid.But he loves school, adores his teacher, played rounders and almost won, got 10/10 in his spellings again. So why isn’t he sharing the details of his day, you might wonder, why so quiet?
Exposed to several types of education in those days, and one involved learning how to read the look in your eyes, how to calculate moods, how to rewrite myself as inoffensive enough to evade arousing your hate. There was nothing I could have said on those walks home that would have evoked your interest, a positive response. Consequently, I said nothing.
Consequently, I fail repeatedly to comprehend how people relate. Walking up to each other, just blurting out things that have happened to them, things they’ve done. Every time I try, I mumble, to give myself a second chance to be inoffensive, to evade arousing their hate. Every time I try it, I hate myself.
Our relationship is stretched across a valley of mistrust. Primary school decades gone and still haven’t learnt the words to express regret. How I couldn’t call you before I put my neck in the noose. Why I always have to wait until I’m swinging with no other way to get down.
Bad break-up, couldn’t call up to tell you. Had to wait for you to ask how she was doing and let my tears speak for me.
First Class degree and awarded a prize, didn’t bother to mention. Let graduation announcement speak for me.
Some parents don’t turn up to Graduation. Some parents quiz their kids daily and measure them by their achievements. Some parents can only be communicated with via graveside monologue. I know it could be worse.
Nowadays your damage is only average, parenting level muddling in the middle.
I flinch at the thought of Game Over. I flinch at a lot of stuff.
I am what you made me.
abstract before the concrete
has even been mixed.
– Son, if you were eighteen now what year would you need to have been born?
– 1997, Dad.
– That was fast.
– STOP VISITING PORN SITES ON MY LAPTOP!
“It’s so weird, ” she said, “that you’re a stain on my carpet.”
“It’s weirder,” I replied, “bringing it up now, at the dinner table. The first time meeting my parents.”
She laughed, regaled: how she’d scrubbed and scrubbed but my stubborn spilled seed remained.
“Please pass the potatoes,” said Mum.