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Pillars

When I was born you four
Tall pillars were already built
Constructed from love or fear
I haven’t decided which
And every day I saw the dust
Quiver around you
I saw the pale white of your skin
Begin to crack
You rushing trowel in hand
To put it back
Those pillars have left scars
Deep running through your veins
To your heart
As deep as your bones
A dull ache that centred you
But those pillars kept me safe
From the shadows that haunted
Your dreams
The shogun pellets tearing
Your skin
Instead sweat and a never ending dread
Clenched fists in the dark
Looking over your shoulder
Never letting your gaze leave that
Small boy who didn’t yet know
Where he came from
I remember the nights your words
Shaky but making their way
Lulled me to safe dreams
Of grass and trees and fields
Your four pillars holding me up
Holding up our house
Giving me the life my brother
Your son
Could never have
I saw your structure collapse
Listening to your thunder
Feeling the vibrations in the walls
Hidden in that small space
You built so I would feel safe
And I needed your hand on my shoulder
But it was buried in our kitchen wall
Broken and bruised
Unsure it could ever be rebuilt
But I see you now
I see a man who let himself
Be vulnerable
Who’s hot tears carve the way
For forgiveness
Your body shakes as you confess
You think you failed us
I hear your lungs exhale
The stale breath of many years gone
Finally letting you go
Maybe just for tonight whilst
You drink one more scotch
To help dull the pain of falling
In love at seventeen
Giving that broken woman my mother
Your wife
Every fibre of your being
Just to be thrown away twenty
Two years later
That night at dinner six pm sharp
Exhaustion plagued the room
Its ivory taste in my mouth
Waiting for her to tell you to leave
And your pillars they didn’t crumble
They collapsed all around us
My father
Was broken
All but dust as he stumbled
Through nights whisky bottle in hand
Ready to break every bone
To feel something other than this
Distraught rage
I thought I would never be safe again
No pillars to hold up the ugly world
I was born into
But his muscles tense and his heart
Breaking with every step
I saw that man take those pillars
On his back and shatter them
Using their pieces to build
A dry stone wall
With gaps and cracks and moss
Beginning to grow
And I saw over the stones and
There my father sat
Smiling

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