Snapshots and bedtime stories


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1. Snapshots and bedtime stories

 

 

Of course, we were a happy family once.

I found the proof for every neighbour and friend

 and probably us too,

As a look through our dusty photo album will testify.

Greasy finger prints remain

where they had tapped to exhibit

 my first day in school and a ride on a camel’s back in Lanzarote.

 

And some pictures show you at parties,

as we haven’t just been a family,

not just Mutter und Tochter,

but you are also a woman

with a life that has demanded more

than cooking, cleaning and caring.  

 

Ilse is pictured

holding a cigarette and a glass of wine,

she kisses one of our neighbours who comes around often.

The reflection of the flash is caught

by empty bottles on a table next to her.

 

This is the woman who came into my room,

 In the small hours, after her ‘last drink’

and the drink after that, telling slurred

bed time stories about a prince and his princess

and the life they lived, happily ever after.

 

I never wanted to listen, I always had school the next day.

 

Once I pushed you from my bed

and your anger spilled

over and the raging froth dragged us downwards.

 And your frustrated fingers grabbed firmly

for my soft teenage throat as if it were

your life saver.

 

But sometimes, I would help you upstairs

and gently undress you

pull the blanket over you and kiss you good night, mother

and I would feel a bitterness

when the birds started to sing.  

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