Daily Archives: November 2, 2020

Toll

Nobody told me
you say:
no-one explained; it seems
at each road you pay a toll.
Where crossroad meet,
signposts scribe lies, or mud
smudges each destination,
you claim.
 
You've lost control: you 
never know where the next path will lead.
Looks like a dead-end street.

Your hands 
shake, shame
numbs your brain.
 
So many mistakes.
 
Nobody told you, you say,
then you heap blame
on those who are blinded like you.
 
Loved ones tried,
their words blurred by your need,
your potential curdled by wild hurtle 
into dim thrill of needle 
and sleep.
 
Deep sleep just short of eternal.
 
Mornings bring cravings,
day follows day filled with theft and sale, theft and sale 
to pay for your sleazy escape
again and again.
 
Always the same
peppered with desperate efforts and creasing failures and cramping pain and careless mistakes and fleecing arrests and imprisoning cells
while your head forever screams
to be clean,

while your need
to appease the clamouring beast that clamps your frame and grabs your guts and clings to your skin and kidnaps your mind and steals
your very being
rejects the thought.

...
  
How times change:
these days
you clean my home,
cook my meal. We share expenses and I
marvel at your strength of will.

I ask you:
what was the defining moment
that inspired you to strive
for the light?

This is how you reply:
 
 I gazed
at the signpost ahead
and as I wiped the mud which had blinded my eyes,
I read where each of three roads led.
the first was a dire, familiar trail,
the second pointed to sudden death.
I chose the third road,
the hard road, the right road, the sane road, the safe road,
the stuttering shock.
It was a toll I had to pay:
that searing act of cleansing agony.
I'm glad I grappled through the pain
which led me back 
to hope and health.
 
 
 ©Jane Paterson Basil