Please be well

walking home today,
thinking only of dinner,
leaving the street to follow
a well worn lane;

He must have been
about your age, Paul.
One moment he was not there
and the next he was stagger-stamping my way
as if he had just been dropped from
some shocked alien starship,
rejected for his neglectful filth,
his layered stink,
his scratched and picked skin,
his frightened, frightening expression
which begged to be told how
he came to be so suddenly on this lane,
while at the same time threatening
to kill the first comer.
His legs thrust to the sides,
wobbling like soft silicone tubes
as he zigzagged; a baby trying to walk
with no mother to catch him

Stark eyes slid across mine.
The stench of alcohol and something else
hit me from ten feet away.
I have witnessed several kinds of horror
but I can’t remember seeing
such a wreck of a man.

I shivered
knowing he was some mother’s son
and wishing I had the courage
and the stomach
to hug him

I whispered a begging invocation to the fetid air
please, Paul, please don’t ever travel to
where there is no return.
Please, my son,
be well.


Written for The Daily Post #Shiver

©Jane Paterson Basil

34 thoughts on “Please be well

    1. A week to go – he’s been accepted at a highly regarded Residential Centre which exists to help young people move forward. It’s outside this area – about 2-3 hours trainride away. His charm has carried him through again, against all practical considerations. He knows – we all know – this is his last chance at putting his life back together.

      Liked by 1 person

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