I have never liked my family.
They are a smell
That refuses to go away.
Not my father, whose
Disposition is shtum,
His anger unspent
The sore that stirs happiness still.
Not my mother, whose
Voice the shrill
That finds fault in everything.
Not my sister, whose
Prickles with acetic thorns.
Not my brother, whose
Voice is as shrill
As mother’s, his antithesis
Antics that repel like deet.
Now we are all cooped up
Like sardines, to suffer
The death that trudges
The streets like ghoulish shadows.
A child is an addiction that panics
and calms. Memories of
everything that could go wrong.
And of the protective arms you
throw around them like a mother’s
Of the fear that puts you on tenterhooks,
that makes worry about dangers
not there or make you see
the worst of the ones that are there
as the end they are more often not.
The danger that now lurks outside
our door with its sharp fangs bare.
It is the worst fear of them all.
The type that is more often the end.
It is the type of fear that threatens
to tear the heart out of the chest
every time a child leaves the house.
It is real. It is relentless. It is vile.
Worse, it hits like a gush of hot air
and suddenly, as the flushes
that make sweat hot and cold.
It makes etiolate and useless.
It is the worst fear of every parent:
the death of a child in the hands
of a malevolent shadow, one
you cannot see, hear or feel coming.
ⅲ House Mates
The pandemic opened my eyes
wider than an owl’s.
The fear that I have grown like a pregnancy
did not come to pass.
The fear of loneliness and despair.
The fear of pulling my hair
out and of blowing hot air
out of my nostrils like a steam engine.
Yes we could not leave the house.
Yet in the same house we
found comfort and safety:
The camaraderie soldiers wear in the trenches.
We cooked for each other.
Ate together and shared
Notes about our erstwhile self-centredness.
That which drives a couch
between the time to reflect
And the time to think about someone else.
We played Pictionary, Risk,
and Monopoly, Trivial
Pursuit, Pick-Up Sticks, Scrabble and Chess.
We watched the television
and shouted at the top
of our voices, at the confusion
politicians wore like now.
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