Mother said: “Look after your sister!”
What she meant was: Take this burden
off my shoulders; I am no longer able to cope.
Father said: “Do as I say, not as I do!”
What he meant was: I don’t have the wherewithal
to deal with my own problems, so don’t bring me yours.
Sister said: “Be a good auntie!”
What she meant was: I am too young to be a mother,
and you are much more responsible, so take care
of my consequences.
So I ran away to build my own life:
met a man and married, bought a house,
had children, and dreamed of a future
that would erase the past… but
Husband said: “If you really loved me,
you’d lose weight, be less effusive, control
your temper, and be more supportive of my choices.”
What he meant was: I’m going to grind you so far
into the ground and then I’m going to cheat and cheat
and you’ll have nothing left inside to do anything about it.
And without a word, I left.
What I meant was: I am a real person
with needs of my own, and despite my faults
or limitations, I deserve better.
(This is an edited version of an older poem by the same name, December 2018. Image my own)