I was 12. The forest was full of shadows.
Father drove me to where he and mum
Were taking it easy, except he was not
My real father and nothing was easy.
Some years before mum had decided
Going became too hard for a lonely woman
With two kids clung to the carrier bags, and so
Out of those who tried, this one got lucky.
Old motorbike rattles through places never seen before.
The trees glare. The air is made of sounds.
His chest and belly are almost slit open
Under the whiteness of my stabbing fingers.
I thought of home. I wanted to be home.
Everything jumbled in me: calling him father,
The night too dark for my years, not-knowing
Where I was and what was going to happen.
Years later I learnt all kids
Fear forest and all see creepy things jump
For their eyes – nameless, ever-changing
Profiles, nothingness that wants
To draw you in and dismantle.
Discovery that it was in fact
Not so far, was only a matter of time –
Had I taken a stroll, I’d have been home
In half-hour. I was not his son. My half-brother was.
Years went by and we saw him booze
Too frequently for mum to bear – this is what happens
When it comes home to a man
Choices he made were wrong.
He took off, eventually. Marooned,
A faithless vessel of a middle-aged woman
Splintered by tasks beyond her powers
Wouldn’t tell a new wave if it flooded her eyes.
Every man does so, sooner or later,
Like that patch, that moron, me.