His Legacy


As I sleep
I take a broom and sweep the filth
that fills the corners of the room,
removing gluey cobwebs,
strands as strong as button thread
are thick with muck and dust and flies
built up from when I left,
untouched until the day he died.
They wrap around the scrubby brush
in clumps like demon candy-floss.

A single tug is all I need to strip away
the evil blackness from the aged ceiling.
The room is clean, but far from being satisfied,
I feel the weight of dirt that clings.
It sticks to skin and fills my soul with rage,
and as I face the horrid truth
that he has not been exhorcised,
he steps into the room and speaks to me
as if I saw him yesterday and we were friends.

He passes by while I escape outside
to tell my family I have seen a solid spectre
of the man who took his final breath
ten months ago.
They laugh at me and say
there’s no such thing as ghosts.

When I wake I see my son
and listlessly devine the tale behind my dream:
his father left a legacy.

Word of the Day Challenge: Listless

©Jane Paterson Basil

24 thoughts on “His Legacy

    1. What a lovely thing to say!
      I’ve been distracted lately, but I saw you’d written a post for this challenge. I have to do my weekly shop, but checking out your blog is the first thing after that on my list of things to do.


  1. What a beautiful opening verse – I love everything about it, from the sticky webs to the demon candyfloss. Just perfect similes and images. Some legacies are wonderful and some are tainted. I hope Paul learns to live happy with his

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lynn. Writing this was a weird experience. It fell naturally into iambic pentameter… tick, tock, tick tock. If I believed in omens it would worry me, but I don’t. Hopefully Paul will bury his legacy and learn from the feminine influences he grew up with.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. People can shrug these things off, Jane. I know someone who had an absent, abusive dad who’s since grown up to be one of the best dads I know, almost as a reaction to his own upbringing. It does happen x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That reminds me of A Boy Called It – who was famously subjected to the most horrific abuse as a child. After many troubled years, he eventually became a caring father and a champion of abused children. It can go either way. A study in the US suggested that abused children are no more likely to become monsters than anyone else, but I find that hard to believe.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s hard to break the programming, I think, the ways to behave we learned in childhood. I’ve definitely learned how to be a woman from my mum – I can see the same behaviours in me that I’ve seen in her, both good and bad. Tough to unlearn these things

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            1. It’s often too ingrained in us. My father used to tell us that we would fail, because he believed that doing so would make us more determined to succeed. I’ve recently had to face up to a horrible truth; forgetting how much it damaged us, I’ve occasionally done it to my children, genuinely believing it would push them forward, against all proof to the contrary.

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              1. Well, I think criticism does work with some people. It can make them strong, make them determined to succeed, to please the parent who criticised them – I’ve seen it in other people. It’s easy to beat ourselves up as parents, to look at what we did wrong, but bringing up kids is sodding hard and parents are only human too. I’ve done the same with my son, repeating behaviours I learnt as a kid – I’m not proud of myself, but he’s a nice person so I have to take some credit for that! You’ve done a great job with your kids, Jane otherwise your girls wouldn’t be so lovely, there for you as they are. But we can’t do it all for our kids, they have other influences too beyond our control. x

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                1. Thank you for that. I think maybe I’m too affected by Paul’s accusations and rants. It’s a difficult situation; I’m trying to steer him into dealing with problems that are about to take big chunks out of his bum, but he’s a hardened procrastinator.


  2. How could you not be affected by his rants – he’s your son, a part of you, no matter how grown up he is. But all you can do is steer, isn’t it? He’s an adult and has to make his own decisions. It’s just impossibly hard for you to see the fallout coming when he can’t. I hope he begins to listen to you Jane. Keep safe and well XXX

    Liked by 2 people

  3. deeply poignant and ever so sad, Paul has to make his own way you can only support from a distance … there is nothing else you can do, it’s his life and he obviously has more of his father in him but probably can’t see it 😦
    Good luck with it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kate. Paul is staying with me at the moment so supporting him from a distance is an impossibility right now, but he should be moving about 45 miles away in a week or so. Maybe he’ll finally learn to look after himself. I hope so.

      Liked by 1 person

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