For Mum

my child, I knew you well
each time you fell
I was there
showing you care
– scraped knees
became my expertise.

but as you grew
you withdrew.
and I knew
something was wrong
– not what was going on
because you didn’t tell.
but it was that smell
antiseptic in your room
which had become a tomb.
and I realised,
though you tried to hide
you took care
not to lay bare
the hurts you were making
punishments for him taking
something from you.
not that I knew
that then
how could I, when
you didn’t tell me?

so I pretended not to see
I gave you space,
let you take things at your own pace
and you sought help
but said it felt
not right
the fight
was leaving you
and you were leaving too.

you moved
as if you had something to prove.
I thought a fresh start would be good
but as soon as you could
you set out to destroy yourself
and I felt powerless to help.
nights of drinks and hurts
and more long sleeved shirts.

I often think
that maybe if I’d seen the link,
if I’d been the one
pushing for things to be done
life would have been different
not all bent
out of shape
and stuck together with sticky tape.

but, as you say, you weren’t ready
– needed to be steady
to be braver
not to waver
over whether you could accept
the help that was kept
just out of reach
until each
little thing fell into place.

now, when I see your face
I see hope there.
and I’m showing you care
once more
as you mend your core.


2 thoughts on “For Mum

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