scenes from childhood

this poem attempts to capture an horrific drama in my father’s family, on April 6th 1942. it concerns a murder / suicide involving his ill brother and his distressed father.



  • did you hold his life so lightly,
    him on whom you used to dote?
    you squeezed so terribly tightly
    on that sick child’s small throat.

    what thin thread finally snapped?
    what evil possessed your soul?
    what had your conscience trapped?
    what vortex filled that gaping hole?

    then you tied the slip-knot rope,
    then you hung the heavy anchor,
    now gone all your fragile hope –
    what caused such rancour?

    did you linger before you leapt?
    did any witness your bitter end?
    were any repentant tears wept?
    did you struggle, or calmly descend?

    my Derby pilgrimage a family first,
    shared, worn graver marker small,
    no longer circumstances cursed,
    no tears, no prayers uttered at all.

    a “missing” cousin found soon after,
    reunited, after sixty eight years:
    relief, followed by shared laughter;
    blessed – those inarticulate tears….


    For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death.     2 Corinthians 7:10


    Same poem in video short with multiple images by Katya Zhu and music by Adrian Snell

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