Wept Till I Was Dry - Poem by Andy Brookes
My parents had a toxic relationship,
Cemented with blood and pain.
Filled with bruises and black eyes,
Of promises broken and hot tears of regret.
My mother prayed with all her Catholic zeal
To the chipped plaster virgin in its cobwebbed niche,
Which looked down with a blind beneficence,
Confessing faults where no fault lay.
Unable try as she might to shed transgressions
No matter how hard the beating got.
I remember mornings as she shuffled round the kitchen
Such tentative movements with the occasional hiss of pain.
Carrying her martyrs palm like a badge of shame.
Trying to disguise the contusions with make up liberally applied.
My father sat taciturn and uncommunicative unless he had the drink in him
All buttoned up slowly he became maudlin and cruel in turns
Until the anger was unleashed in terrible bolts
And mum became a canvas for his fists,
Whilst we kids hid in mute despair and fear.
So strange it was how much she wept at his death
I'm not sure if they were tears of sorrow or relief.
Then she said between the sobs
Your father was a good man who loved me in his way.
And I who had sat by tearless wept till I was dry.
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