Who Just Sat and Listened

On the 4th of September 1995
I returned to an empty house,
a wall of anger ran through me and around me.

It took a week for the wall to crumble,
standing at the cash register at work
the sobs rose up from a pit way down low.

For several hours I sobbed and howled
in the office out back of the store.
Evelyn the store manager came and went
and when she could – just sat and listened.

3 days later my mother and father arrived
for 2 weeks they stayed
their child, the grown man needed care

mother cleaned all the shelves and cupboards
cleaned all the clothes and ironed shirts
father tried to find me answers
but in the end – just sat and listened.

After they went home, the house slowly lost their comfort,
shelves and cupboards returned to slight disorder
one by one ironed shirts were worn, never again to feel the same.

Hanging in its place I left one shirt untouched,
now and again I would open the wardrobe
to feel my mother in the sleeve.


10 years later we are speaking
on the phone about the children,
all of them young men now and mostly independent

you talk about wanting to see them more often
but it’s hard to arrange, you tell me about your new man
and how things are working out.

In a moment of candor you speak of the past
confessing it should never have happened.

Who would have thought that in the end
it would be me, who just sat and listened.