As a Human Being
There is the happiness you have
And the happiness you deserve.
They sit apart from one another
The way you and your mother
Sat on opposite ends of the sofa
After an ambulance came to take
Your father away. Some good
Doctor will stitch him up, and
Soon an aunt will arrive to drive
Your mother to the hospital
Where she will settle next to him
Forever, as promised. She holds
The arm of her seat as if she could
Fall, as if it is the only sturdy thing,
And it is since you've done what
You always wanted. You fought
Your father and won, marred him.
He'll have a scar he can see all
Because of you. And your mother,
The only woman you ever cried for,
Must tend to it as a bride tends
To her vows, forsaking all others
No matter how sore the injury.
No matter how sore the injury
Has left you, you sit understanding
Yourself as a human being ﬁnally
Free now that nobody's got to love you.
Staying Human is the fourth in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies from Bloodaxe Books, due out on National Poetry Day, 1st October. Bloodaxe have joined forces with Unbound to offer readers an advance subscription with exclusive extras (offer closes 31st August). For more details, see: https://unbound.com/books/staying-human.
Staying Human includes 500 thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world, with a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century. Bloodaxe would like to thank One Hand Clapping for offering this space to share these poems from Staying Human with readers.