Saw him in the street today.
I could say we passed like strangers,
but it wouldn’t be true.
Years of abuse
curled like vapour
in the grey space between us.
I caught the rueful look on his face,
maybe shame, maybe regret at having lost
his power to use me.
He limply lifted his hand in vague salute,
and my view willingly slid from his face.
He didn’t slow his pace –
neither did I.
After we’d passed each other by,
I felt chilled relief;
throughout the vacant years of addiction,
I have clung on to a fake picture of a wonderful son.
I don’t know when he went, or understand why,
but he died, leaving but a shallow crust,
to be squatted by the horror I saw
in the street today.
Maybe I need to grieve,
but it feels like I’ve been grieving forever.
Please don’t criticise,
nor empathise or sympathise.
Don’t tell me he’s still there, or that he cares;
don’t treat me like an innocent,
or like a green beginner ~
I may be too brittle to take it;
I may break.
©Jane Paterson Basil