the thief

You worked so well for so many years,
supporting your family, close and extended,
with an eye to detail and a sharp, quick mind
which meant you could see without being told.
Reliable, responsible, hard-working and efficient,
and it seemed that in this heart of Africa,
you were one of the lucky ones and would succeed.
But then, some things were missing – a phone,
a hair dryer, a bottle or two of wine – enough,
too much for it to be anything other than theft.
We had been away and there was no way of knowing,
if you had fallen into madness and risked all,
for one brief moment of the worst of who you were;
or, if someone else had been in the house.
Was there an assignation, a stepping into the arms
of what seemed like love? Or was it just a convenient
opportunity, and the person who gave comfort,
also brought chaos and ultimately, ruin?
At the age of forty-one you are old on this continent,
and in this country, so many do not even make it
this far. Did this weigh on your mind – the embrace
of Death, the constant companion in this dark heart,
and as fear pushed through sanity, did you fall
into ways which could only bring a bring an end –
a burying of your future and your hopes?
What will you tell your children when there is no job,
no money coming in and how will you explain it
to your mother, who cares for five of her grand-children
now their parents are dead and you are the only one
who is able to earn a living, amongst her frail,
surviving children? Or will there be no words?
Was there a need to return to the village, to yourself,
as who you were born and destined to be,
and to sit in the dust, outside the house we helped
you to build, pondering, the dry days and brittle nights
of the past, in a land where there is more suffering
than there is joy. Was that moment of madness sourced
in a need to return to the place where you were born,
and to reflect upon who you might have been,
if you had been born, in another time, or another place?
Whatever the cause, it is done and the hard earth,
red and powdered, will hold you up for the remaining
years, – however many of them, there may be.
In the broken chalice of your world, perhaps there
will be a new-found peace and a sense of belonging.

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About rosross

Editor, writer, poet.
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