For Laura


I’m seated by the window, watching boredom unfurl,
when you walk down the street, my dear depleted girl.
I focus my eyes on your wasted little frame;
hunt for a clue that something is the same;
a hint of that innocence I used to see;
the essence of your childhood personality;
something I can recognise that hasn’t changed;
a spark within your heart that’s not been rearranged;
a clue that you still attached to this family
in whatever odd way you may wish to be.

your unreachable proximity is baffling to me,
I watch you closely though I know you can’t see.
I’m unsure if in my absence you feel like my daughter;
it pricks me with guilt, makes me feel like a voyeur;
I’m spying like a stranger, an agenda in mind;
to steal away the limited freedom of your kind;
to lock you in my love or in a barred up cage;
ignore your screaming agony, your frothing rage;
strangle all the dealers who knock on the door,
until you finally appreciate what life is for;
when you rediscover a child’s sense of mystery,
and your hunger for drugs recedes into history.

You’ve passed the houses and you’re out of view;
I wish I’d left my flat and caught up with you,
but I know you’re needing something as you’re in a hurry,
and your answers to my questions would make me worry;
I shouldn’t inquire but there’s a limitation
on how many ways to have open conversation,
since you fell into a hole full of chemical highs,
while to everyone’s surprise, your body survived.
There’s so little of you left, but whatever you do
and whatever more you lose, I will always love you.


Β©Jane Paterson Basil


57 thoughts on “For Laura

    1. Thank you for having the wisdom not to offer advice. People come up with “brilliant ideas” to “cure” my two younger children. It’s an insult, both to them and to me. It’s like a shop assistant trying to tell a lawyer how to win an impossible case.
      I see Laura through my window several times a week. One of her dealers lives up this way. She’s on a methadone script, and says she’s going to get clean… We meet when she chooses to, but talk tires her, and if she comes inside the block where I live I’ll be evicted, as she’s banned. She’s homeless. There’s nowhere for us to relax together,so she never stays with me for long. Things are better than they have been, as she no longer uses anything on top of the heroin. I’m learning to make the most of what I have. I don’t feel courageous, but when I’m told I am it makes me feel good, so thank you for that, too.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you… She has many unsolved issues, which can’t be solved while she’s using, and which make it less likely for her to get clean, but she currently has someone looking after her. I doubt if he knows the danger he’s in.
      There’s always hope…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for you kind thoughts, Liza. I used to write a lot about my two youngest children, who are both addicts. The poems I wrote two years ago – when I was still very angry – shows that the situation with Laura has improved. But the danger is still present.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The thoughts go through my head all the time. If I write them down it helps clear my mind, so I can move on. Writing it is easier than living it. My work runs in a cycle with my moods. Angry/depressed is usually followed by humorous, then when it approaches manic I pull myself together and write about trees, or hippies, or lurve.
      Fortunately, there are good people in my life πŸ™‚


  1. So beautiful and sad and strong. I’m always astounded that you haven’t been torn in two by the two different families you have, though I know emotionally you’re probably like confetti at times. How is Laura?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She turns up and rings my bell every week or two. I meet her outside and we walk, or go for coffee. I give her my news, and ask her questions. She answers “yes,” “no,” or “don’t know”. She’s soon exhausted from the effort, and has to go. When she hugs me goodbye she clings to me, and tells me half-a-dozen times that she loves me. Then she goes. Three days ago she quietly told me that she’s not going to do heroin any more. She sounded sure – she always does.
      I think she’s mostly detached from her emotions. She has somewhere safe to stay. It’s heart-breaking, but not frightening at the moment.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s true. I’ve been guilty of moments of envy, watching those whose lives are wonderful, though their ethics may be lax…
          You don’t have an easy time of it either, but in a different way.


  2. Very beautifully written, powerful.
    I think the most painful feeling in this world is of a mother seeing their child in pain and not being able to do anything about it. I concede that I don’t know how painful it must be for you, and know nothing about your specific situation, but I pray for you and your daughters, and wish you all the very best.
    For my part, in my own little way, I’m here, a distant stranger with whatever support my words can provide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you offer your prayers and support, you cease being a stranger, and become a friend.
      I started blogging a month after Laura lost her boyfriend to a heroin overdose. During the year that led up to this tragedy, Laura had severe drug-induced psychosis. She was starved and terrified. After he died she got even more delusional – and aggressive. The police, the drugs service, and her psychiatrist all expected her to die. I wrote about her, and people in the blogging community began praying. Though there have been dips, her condition has improved massively, and my strength has grown. This is down to the support and prayers of my fellow bloggers.
      Thank you, friend, from the bottom of my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernadette, I checked out your blog a week or so ago, and saw a photo of one of your sons. I was about to message you when I was called away urgently – not a rare occurrance for me. I went back to your blog a couple of days later, and the same thing happened again. This time I’ll ignore the phone if it rings.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for those words. They’ve made me realise – isn’t this strange, after 30 years – your words have made me realise that she probably doesn’t have – never did have – the capacity to know how loved she is. It occurs to me now that that may be the essential componant she lacks.
      There was always something lacking in her love for others; although it can be intense, it sometimes feels bitter; more like hatred. Maybe now I know why. All these years – and now you’ve spelled it out to me.
      I don’t know how to thank you… xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My Dearest Jane, those pictures of the Laura I have long known were as beauiful as your words. You know how much all of your family mean tome and what I o for you is the greatest help I have in trying to live as long as I can, God bless and thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anton, I’ve had a couple of unexplainable experiences on WP recently. I’ve seen posts that didn’t exist. Please can you tell me: did you post yesterday, or am I losing my mind? xxx Love, Jane


  4. yes Jane , I took down a blog about a dream and it’s aftermath because too many people were confused. But it is true, I am hanging in and I have actually been told that no secondary cancer has remained after a successful invasion of my person. It will take a while to pick up, but then my wife has her op (her last one we hope) next week, so it should be an entertaining week πŸ™‚ love you all xx Anton

    Liked by 1 person

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