His Father


Somewhere outside, the sound of a stationary car
Waits. Lamplight stains the curtains, cannot
Light the room: within, the seconds eke
Like rolling a cigarette, rolling a cigarette,
Saying how quiet it is. You almost dared
To say it was him: but that would be akin
To firing first, raising the alarm;
Pebbles on the dark surface. Better not
Say, that he’s come for his kid. Better not
Let the dread turn real, and beat on the door.
The station’s so close, how could it take
Them so long to help, to cross one breath of night?
To ward him off, whether present or otherwise.
Meanwhile we wait, you hold your baby like
Your final minute, hour, day: as all the while
The night rolls on, immeasurable, quiet.


Based on a personal experience. A relative of mine had ended an abusive and harmful relationship with her partner, the father of her child. One evening she called us, anticipating that he would arrive soon to do something despicable. Holding up that night in her flat, waiting for the storm to break, we found humour when we could – likening the situation to Helm’s Deep – but it stirred a number of dormant childhood memories for me, as well. She and her son are now safe, happy, healthy and well, and are tremendously and entirely loved.


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