Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Sick Equation - Brian Patten

In school I learned that one and one made two,
It could have been engraved in stone,
An absolute I could not question or refute.
But at home, sweet home, that sum was open to dispute -
In that raw cocoon of parental hate is where
I learned that one and one stayed one and one.
What's more, because all that household's anger and its pain
Stung more than any teacher's cane
I came to believe how it was best
That one remained one,
For by becoming two, one at least would suffer so.

Believing this I threw away so many gifts -
I never let love stay long enough to take root,
But by thinking myself of too little worth
I crushed all its messengers.

I grew - or did not grow -
And kept my head down low,
And drifted with the crowd,
One among the many whose dreams of flight
Weighed down the soul,
And kept it down,
Because to the flightless
The dream of flight's an anguish.
I stayed apart, stayed one,
Claiming separateness was out of choice,
And at every wedding ceremony I saw
The shadow of that albatross - divorce -
Fall over groom and bride,
And I took small comfort in believing that, to some degree
They too still harboured dreams of flying free.

I was wrong of course,
Just as those who brought me up were wrong.
It's absurd to believe all others are as damaged as ourselves,
And however late on, I am better off for knowing now
That given love, by taking love all can in time refute
The lesson that our parents taught,
And in their sick equation not stay caught.

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