Rites of Passage

By | 1 February 2019

You are a piece of shattered peace, a maelstrom
scattering the fragments of your childhood
wildly on the wind.
And now
you’ve claimed your adolescence like a rainwash,
sweeping both of us down slopes of saneness
‘til rock-bottom seems a target
that we’re never going to reach.

But this isn’t really about puberty,
your ripening,
those hormones brooding you in moodiness
and thunderbolts
and bite.
Nor birthing,
the queerness of my belly’s sudden emptiness,
the way my foreign body
so readily transfigured
whimpers into milk.

This is about
your first external storm,
the one that howled a tantrum
through gnashing gums outside.
You clung to me, my umbilicus. I thrilled to hear
your breath grizzling my ear, your head nestled
tight in that concavity
where shoulder meets the neck,
a niche so vulnerable
that it doesn’t have a name.

And this is about
your first steps,
when you were in such a rush
to be everywhere at once
that you weaned your neediness with bruises
and broken bones:
it scared me that everyone would think
I’d battered you,
as you proudly itemised your battle blemishes,
the mnemonics you’ll always list upon your skin.

This is about wanting to push fast-forward:
to confirm that all those yesterdays
of I don’t know,
and later on,
and maybe, maybe, maybe,
and close the bloody door,
will form a healthy scab; that we’ll both recall
the delicate cord we used to share, the melody
of syncopated hearts,
the effort of letting go;
that one day you’ll be content to carry
a little bit of me around with you.

And I will touch that precious hollow
that doesn’t have a name
and remember how it feels
to hold someone you love
when the world roars.

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