Deborah Boydston Deborah Boydston
Recommendations: 45

"soldier's shipped off to war in the innocence just before pubery." Great lines.

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Shaunna Harper Shaunna Harper
Recommendations: 35

Cremation - Row Five


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soul mates

You had me watch my father burn
from the fifth row.


Liver-spotted hands that had never held mine,
faded eyes like dirtied marbles
that hadn’t lent so much as a minute of time
to my youth, my growth.
No handkerchief, no warm embrace,
just the cold disbelief
that they can’t really be putting my daddy in there.


With the ground rising, falling underneath
little feet dressed in black shiny shoes
subtle under a mourning head,
I remained stoic as they put
my father to bed.


And you, you were absent,
removing yourself from feeling,
occupied with your loss,
your people, the costs;
an unknown entity,
the celebrity.
I wondered, felt angered,
at your ignorance,
pondered
the existence
of this so-called
grandmother.


You carted us off to Mandy’s, or Maureen’s
or Margaret’s or Doreen’s,
whatever her name,
left us with our blood and shame
for a night without comfort or rest,
soldier’s shipped off to war
in the innocence just before
puberty. 1 comment


Then came the fire.
The disposal.
Off he went, dressed rigid in wood,
and it’s ten years later
and it’s still misunderstood.
I lost a half of my whole,
and you, you revelled in your role.
You played host to the entire room,
left us hanging at the sides like puppets,
while I suffocated between suits
and dresses with foreign smells,
blockades between me and my old man.


We were told to stand –
I was scared I’d fall –
as the church broke out in an echo
of Another Brick in the Wall.
His favourite, apparently.


After the tears, the reminiscing,
the saccharine endearments,
the thank you’s,
cheek-kissing,
we were herded like cattle again.
More alien faces,
each without name.
I was introduced to my
Thai stepmother.
I already had one,
but here, have another! –
and no dad’s –
don’t bother trying to love her,
she doesn’t speak the language.
Here’s a gift, just to say,
nice meeting you, time to go on your way.
My entire family might as well have
been Thai on that day.


Left in row five,
shamefully alive
surviving on a survivor’s guilt,
as they spoke in their tongues
and dressed in their sheep’s clothing.
Ten years of age,
watching the flames
eat my father’s face.


Stepmother took the ashes back to Thailand.


Grandmother sends fifty pounds every birthday.
I called one year with news of who I am,
where I’ve been, what I was up to.
It was a short call.


All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.


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