Poetry

Family Duties

three places, finest cutlery just so
a toast to two lost loves, a meal for one
an album, photos, card from long ago
that justify the things that he had done
the drunken roar remembered all these years
the swinging bat, the cries, the blinding tears

His main concern had been his sisters’ tears
Not his dear mother, though he loved her so
Her time on earth cut short to forty years
And he her greatest love, her number one
With only memories left of things they’d done
In years of innocence so long ago

It seems to him a thousand years ago
He called the cops, his voice awash with tears
He knew exactly what had to be done
His duties as their brother told him so
He drilled them so their stories became one
The version that they’d stick to through the years

The cop had seen a lot in twenty years
And knew the boy would lie, would have a go
At selling his account to everyone
That he could cry on cue, and make his tears
A weapon to gain sympathy and so
To hide the truth of what the girls had done

Arrested, a confession, justice done
His sentence: to be held for seven years
In gaol? He’s only ten years old, and so
What’s left? Juvee detention, that’s a go!
His smile returned, no place was this for tears
Aloof, he had no time for anyone

He never mixed with others from Day One
They gave him space, remembering what he’d done
His sisters’ thank you card almost brought tears
The card and photos: treasured through the years
And when released about six months ago
That’s all he took, that’s all that mattered so

One card to keep him sane throughout the years
It whispers “You done right back long ago”
No tears, a family duty done? Just so!

Alan Smith

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