The Absence of Good

A brief respite from burning August heat
The freezer-section of the supermarket
I consult my list as my children weave
In and out, in and out, around my feet

Out of control, they giggle and squeal
High on life, energised by E-numbers
I focus on the four things I must find
Apples, yoghurt, bread and wine

Then I see you shuffling towards me
I suppose I had been expecting you
Misery, hopelessness, emptiness, death
But not today, amongst such normality

So real, I can reach out and touch you
Even though I suspect the flesh of my hand
Might pass through your entire body
So frighteningly devoid of life you seem

In week-old make-up sliding across
An oily, sweating, waxy face
Traces of crimson lipstick smudged
Across a whisky-scented, food-stained mouth

Dressed for winter in a heatwave
In a once-vibrant electric blue tailored coat
The sleeve now barely hanging
Onto the threadbare shoulder seam

We lock eyes for a few seconds
I hold onto my trolley for support
As an overwhelming, choking feeling
Washes over me; I struggle to stand

I search the bloodshot windows to your soul
And find nothing. Beaten
Your sole purpose; waiting to die
In a cold, lonely, wind-blown place

I close my eyes quickly before you can take me
And as I “come to”, I sense once more
My kids weaving around my legs
Giggling, so full of life, as once you were

I clutch them, unable to stop hot tears
I hold my daughter as once you were held
And as I breathe her in, I ask myself
When, where, how, did they all stop caring?

The absence of good in you, in this world
Leaves me shaken; I straighten my back
And I focus on the list of four things
Apples, yoghurt, bread and wine

Leave a Reply