Like Judas

Weeks of running, chasing the tail of crack and smack, the opposing demon siblings. Dodging police, each narrow miss another weight on him. Paranoia, like a fever, seizing him, flinging him into prickly bushes; chasing him across lines of fast traffic, pushing him to scale walls, scrape his shins, fall; leading him to muddy waters, dunking him.

If the police didn’t get him
he’d grow too weak to swim.
He would sink.

I prepared his last supper, and, like Judas, I attended, smiling while he tasted; chewed; passed compliments on the food, all the while assessing his pitiful condition: face and hands cut and bruised; ripped jeans stained where the blood had seeped through.
I looked at his eyes, hooded by brows that I had not designed, pupils working overtime; taking in the room; flicking to the curtained window – his tormented mind visualising police in the darkened street.

Judas did it with a kiss, but in this age of technology I did it with a click. My text sent, its single word a simple request beginning a short chain of events resulting in a tense knot of uniforms beyond my door.

As the handle turned, my heart churned, altering the shape of my fear, but offering no relief.

a
six
year
prison
sentence
was expected.
it felt like
eons,
like
f
o
r
e
v
e
r

The police were kind; they gave him time to say goodbye. I looked into his face and recognised the child I’d raised who’d filled my soul with love and pride – I’d thought that child had died, but suddenly, as if he’d been baptized, arrest had cleansed him of his sins, sloughed away the years of filth the drugs had left behind. The feeling of grief and loss redoubled, splintering beneath my ribs. Pity dripped into my soul. I had to fight to hide my tears: crying wouldn’t ease his journey to the cells. When we parted, a brave smile clung unconvincingly to my twitching lips.

My eyes stayed dry;
I didn’t shake; I didn’t hit the floor –
until I heard that final sound –
the slamming
of the
door

This post was inspired by a heartrending post on grieving and healing mothers. My poem tells of an event that occurred over two years ago, and is therefore no more or less than a part of my history. My son was arrested and imprisoned in March 2014. He received a thirty month prison sentence – far less than was expected, and has since been released on licence on three occasions, only to be returned each time for infringing his licence agreement. He will remain in prison until September, after which time his sentence will be over.

That dread eternal instant

Ten thousand night terrors
      concentrated
             into
                 one
                    moment
 
                       one

                        eternal

                         s t r e t c h e d - o u t
                         moment
                        when I found you
 
                     grey
 
                 still
 
               silent
 
               before your
                last
                  exhalation
                      of
                         air -
 
                          when
                         it
                        left
                       your
                      lungs
                     it was
                     like
                       a
                         final
 
                           escape...
 
                         that culmination
                     of ten thousand night terrors
                was filled with lifetimes 
          of the grief of loss
 
    that
  moment
 
that dread eternal instant
 
then a message surged into my brain
demanding that you live again
I needed you to be alive
You must survive you must survive

heroin was the heartless whore
that held you in her needled claw
and though I feared her murderous might
I wouldn't let her win this fight
the weight of my love gave a beat to your heart
as I gave you the massage of life
and matching my pulse was the chant in my head
you can't be dead you can't be dead
my body became a machine of revival
rhythmically working for your survival
 
and when the paramedics came
 and tagged me in my desperate game
  they had to fight heroically
     to finalise recovery
 
            after
             that 
             night
            the terrors
           amplified
           extending outwards
            to become 
              the very core and
                  crust of my existence

© Jane Paterson Basil