I´m nearly there now.
Nearly far enough away,
From that dreadful, Spanish night,
When you triumphed over Love,
And taught my heart to beat dry blood.
And that even the Love of our children
Is but a small candle, in an infinite dark,
That chance or fate, or hidden hate, might snuff,
At any wild, outrageous moment.
Taught me that the only thing we really own,
Is the power to stare back, unbent, into the eyes of hate,
Even as its ingrate claws tear open the cavity of life,
To reach the secret seat of Love within,
Turning it to smoking ash and bitumen.
Nearly far enough away for you,
And the lessons that you gave me,
To be small enough to fit inside
The circumscriptions of my limited mind.

The day before.
Walking ancient trails, made by endless Iberian hooves,
You hinted darkly at exploits of which, you knew,
I never would or could approve.
Trying to tell me that your world
Was bigger than mine now.
That you had outgrown me, and that,
What Love was left was the dutied debt
Of the fledged apprentice.
Promising me violence for crimes I hadn´t committed yet,
Had no idea I could commit.
We returned to the house, my heart troubled,
Not sure I knew you anymore.

And then the night remembered when,
Voices exploding, like a big bang, out of nothing,
A rush of stairs, faces, angry jabs,
And then lying on the bathroom floor,
Face down on cool tiles, detached,
A baby´s eye view of the world´s furniture.
Hearing myself chanting Buddhist nonsense,
As if from another room, that she,
The devious girlfriend, takes for a fit,
While your boot impacts my ribs.

Then, escaped, waiting in the mountain dark,
While you crashed and roared nearby,
Waking the little houses in the timeless, eon´d valley.
The pain of broken bones, as yet as nothing,
To the pain of uncomprehended grief and loss.
2 A.M, in a foreign land,
Without currency, unable to speak.
Unable to buy relief or sleep or distance.
Hiding from my own crazed household.
Never more alone.

Then pain brings return and you loom,
Dark as the dark, like some shabby Dracula,
Worse for wear, face a vicious smear,
Immediately apparent that,
You are not done yet.
And then your cherished hands,
In which I´d had my share of pride,
My little part in the making of their skill,
Giving me a shred of borrowed worth,
Now, about my throat.

Resistless, I sink into the ground,
Wishing to be only gone this woeful circumstance,
And the bent, untidy life that bought me to it.

Regretless, I rise into the air,
Looking down upon this painted scene
Benign, no longer a participant.
Ready and content to return into the unheard song.

But then, cruelty and reason afflicted you.
Your rage sputtered, and you banged my head
Against the nearby wall a couple of times,
Then left me to resume the life you´d hollowed.
Of walking and talking,
And the endless fulfilling of petty obligations.
Devoid of like and dislike,
Without preference in anything.
Surprised at nothing.
Caring for nothing.
Undead and unpersoned.

In the months that followed, my mind endlessly rehearsing,
As if caught by Jovian gravity, or something blacker, darker,
The loathed and wearisome sequence of events,
Trying to make of them a story wherein I might forgive,
Or at least accept a part of blame.
Then time, and other sorrows,
Come to fill the hole you made,
With dank winter colours.
Dirty whites and charcoal greys.
Bromine Browns and waxy evergreens.
And, as I say, I´m nearly there now.
Nearly far enough away for you ,
And the lessons that you gave me,
To be small enough to fit inside
The circumscriptions of my frail and limited mind.

So, when we stand upon the bridge together,
As one day, the forces of our lives permitting,
I hope we must,
May the great improbable spirit,
Stuff our mouths with grace,
And help us find the small but difficult words,
That mend feuding families like ours,
Close sorry chapters like these.
That restore trust, and rebuild affection.
May a little miracle occur
And engineer a working peace that might endure.

And to other fathers I would say;
Never be a stepfather.
Never take another man´s children into your home
As though they were your own,
And mistake them for your own.
For you will never know true authority,
And when it matters most, they will disown you,
And bring you pain you could not have known existed.

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009