A poem by MAYA ABRAHAM-STEELE, which was longlisted for the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition 2014.
There is a place between asleep and awake,
Where little girls drift too at the sound of their father’s voice calling them awake in the mornings.
It can only be visited briefly.
And my mother’s cry from that morning
Remains there even now.
My visit to the place that day was brief.
Before the shouting started
And my elder brother’s possessions crashed into walls
As his tears pounded against the laminate floor.
I was ten.
The dread was flowing through my blood stream like poison.
My mother sat on the end of my bed as she told me,
among heart shaped cushions and soft toys.
There is a place between asleep and awake
Where I lie at 3am most nights when my thoughts deny my slumber.
And the house is hauntingly beautiful when you are the only one awake,
A fraction of its former self, once full of family
Now empty even when it is full.
And I miss my father the most in those hours,
Between worries about my future and silent tears about the past.
I am eighteen.
The sadness flows through my veins where the blood used to be
And I am no longer shocked at the news,
But grieving for lost years and family photos never taken
When we had the goddamn chance.