You come into my home unbidden, unnerving me, and although I am wary I silence my tongue; today your subdued air of submission gives me unusual trust in you. I don’t want to shun you, my unravelled daughter, though my love seems redundant and unkindly used. Your cuts and your bruises are ugly and telling, starvation and pallor are are hard to ignore. Your fingers are busily seaching for something; plucking at something inside your bag.
And now you are urging for news of your brother, a worrying subject, for one so unwell. I have nothing but good news, which shouldn’t unhinge you, but unhealthy thoughts could worry your skull. I plunge the memory of our last discussion under my consciousness, as must be done.
He stepped out of prison anxious and wary, clad in mis-matched minimal garb, because everything he had been wearing on entry was already filthy and ripped and marred. His feelings were mixed as he breathed semi-freedom next to his case-worker as they walked to the car, because under the fear of a failure at freedom, was excitement at the thought of healing the scars.
(I subversively watch you from under my lashes, and see my reluctance was undeserved. Without reserve you absorb every morsel; your thirst for knowledge is undisguised. But still unremitting your fingers keep picking, plucking at something inside your bag.)
When he arrived at the re-hab the staff and residents all reached out a welcoming hand. He was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and the push and the pull of emotions within. But he felt that this friendly regime would help him to fit into a new routine. He was longing to see his sisters and nephews and looked forward to chaperoned trips here and there. We took him fresh jeans and clean new tee shirts the day that he moved in. It was clear to see that he was intending to be a responsible brother and son, and to heal all the pain his wayward ways had brought to his family.
I see you’ve stopped listening, and it’s hard to think clearly when your eyes only see your hidden fingers, picking at something inside your bag.
I conclude my chat by re-asserting how pleased I am about how well he seems. I assure you of his desire to see you, and promise we’ll visit him next weekend.
And although your fingers still pluck and worry at whatever is lurking inside your bag, I feel that you needed some news of your brother, and maybe his influence will help you get clean.
When you leave me your fingers are still busy picking – picking and plucking – fiddling with something deep in your bag.
Written in February 2015
© Jane Paterson Basil