I crossed them proverbial tracks,
walked the bridge, swam the divide,
left the wrong side and sought shelter
in the place of plenty and light.
The cost casts shadows still -
it seems the new home is no home at all;
inside the boy crawls to a corner
and watches shadows play upon the wall,
remembers his beginnings on that side,
hears the screams and feels the hard hand
or the taunts and bullying tricks
of his brothers and school friends – fear makes a terrible bed partner;
works its way into your psyche like urine
trickling across the sheets.
There were the nights when father chased someone
around the entire block, a brother or sister, hitting their ear,
or other nights lying in bed listening to the brewing overspill
of alcohol and far too long working hours.
I crossed over
but the secrets remain and draw patterns
I can never escape
no matter how far I run
but my children
have had no such nights, never felt the belt,
the tongue lash or had to walk a night street
searching for a sister to the sound
of crinkling venetian blinds as neighbours
drank their fill of some other poor sucker’s misery.
My children have no bridge to cross,
no tracks to bother with -
they are the success
despite all my accumulated failures,
they are the proof the climb out of the pit,
despite the scars and injuries, is worth the effort.