It was an ordinary day, the day you told me
we were leaving home. Skipping my way
to school, I was cat-curious and sun-happy.
You had your silent face on, reading
the distance to the gate for the precise
moment you would to talk to me.
I chattered on, showing you fabulous
stones discarded on the path, pleased
by the deliberate countdown of your
heels. Before you sighed and opened
your heart to shatter mine, I was playing
with the last ray of my sunshine.
You stopped, stilling my fidget, your
stockinged knees on the cobbles, your
sad smile levelled at my eyes. You
spoke of all the times I already knew:
the times when daddy’s voice would shake
the walls and rattlesnake the windows,
the times when fear came in first through
the front door and I hid outside pretending
it was a game, the times when one word,
one fork out of place landed us in a visit
to hospital, the times of pasta for breakfast
and empty bottles. You told me I was 8 now
and past the age of reason and excuses
enough to realise what my daddy is not.
I was late for school, carrying the weight of
your words that circled and tied me down.