Ask Me Why



When we were families,
grandma’s house was a shared nest, and her attic
held history’s secrets beneath
dust that had caressed generations of kin.
Fingerprints revealed the smudged sheen
of an oaken music box, broken
by children’s rough love.
Though empty, it retained memories
of seamed silk stockings and a mother’s kiss.
Buried in a leather trunk an unworn
wedding dress told a musty story of domestic hope,
its promise stolen by the guns of war;
beneath the yellowed crepe-de-chine
lay mothy remnants
of a bridal bottom drawer.

When we were families,
most of us had somewhere
we could call our family home.
It may be humble, rough-and tumble,
with crumbling bathroom walls,
but it was many times better than no home at all.
When cold weather crept through our vests,
we’d pile into the kitchen through a welcoming door
and nestle next to a warming fire.

   * * *

Beyond my window, rain splashes passers by.
A billowing wind blows them forward, to where dry warmth beckons .

Half a mile away an encampment of flimsy tents
does little to protect our homeless friends.

At night they crawl inside their sleeping bags, fully dressed.
Curling up tight, they pretend to themselves that their nest is safe,
while council officials continue their plot
to rob the dispossessed of what little they’ve got.

©Jane Paterson Basil

24 thoughts on “Ask Me Why

  1. Beautifully put. My city is suffering from the same syndrome. The officials just want the “homeless problem” to go away without any care to the fact that these are human beings. It seems like an endless vortex from which few can emerge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Over here, Government austerity measures are putting vulnerable folks on the street. The local Government allow them a site, but once they start to build up a community – thereby making themselves safer – they’re evicted. It’s no wonder the suicide rate is going through the roof.
      Originally, this poem was a lot longer, but I deleted the end of it. More and more, I’m writing angry rants, and having to delete them 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Adelaide City Council has just recently announced a new partnership project to eradicate rough sleeping. I look forward with interest to see how it progresses. We are heading into what is promised to be a searingly hot summer, which in many ways is just as challenging as the cold and wet winters.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. good work jane, I can see your heart is breaking with the plight of the homeless….a sad situation that never seems to improve, here the rents are so high, anyone making minimum wage cannot afford to live where they work, have to bus in from farther away and the homeless encampments are fine till they piss someone off and then the authorities break it up a bit (usually over a drug/safety issue). Some can be very polite and nice, but some will stab you for a quarter….yikes. Peace and blessings and rant away love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Around here the homeless are more at risk from the general public than the other way round. People like to set fire to their tents, and we had a case last year of someone setting fire to the coat of a homeless alcoholic in a wheelchair.
      There used to be a problem with gay-bashing. Now the thugs have turned to rough-sleepers and addicts.

      Liked by 1 person

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