How The Past Becomes The Present: A Poem

I stared into the dead faces of your parents.

The black and white blurred photograph.

The past that managed to become present in

The house you built. How you brought them in.

Back in. How you never let go. You continued to

Spin their vicious circles, around your fingers

And mind, around our throats, reperpetrating their

Lifelong thirst for violence and extinction of their

Own children.


What did he think it would do if he laid hands on you?

Beat you with his belt? Did he think it would make you

A better person? Did she try to cure all the wounds he

Inflicted by telling you the world is yours, all women are

Yours to take and throw away, bodies to inhabit and leave,

That she belongs to you only, that she lives only to serve you,

After he’s done with you, after he eroded love from your body,

She would come into the equation trying to recuperate everything

After she saw the damage that he had done, suddenly taking her

Power back, the mother, complacent, helpless, the curer, picking

Up the shards within you without you, assembling you anew,

Deconstructed, she would never agree to destroyed, never.

What did you, in fact, become?


She made you believe in worlds that you couldn’t see.

She told you with her actions that you are superior,

That all your suffering will fade away soon, that you

Are her golden boy, and she fed you to fill the deep hole

That your father knocked into you. She made it pour over.

She never found the right words. Not the right actions either.

She reacted. Your father acted. One poison over another, poured,

The layers, of you, my father, and I look at their faces, on their

Wedding day, crooked smiles, sideways, she, in the beginning of

An idealised dream, he, incompatible and standing before a mission

That had already failed, he had it in him, he knew, and she thought

That it had ended with her father or perhaps she loved him

Because he resembled her own father. Who knows? Ad absurdum.


That photograph in the centre of your field of vision.

You held on to both. The roots of your wrongdoings.

Unquestioned. Accepted. Sunken in. Spread and infested.

Love can be such an empty word and sound, bones, no meat,

Or it can consist of so many other things, coveted, veiled,

Lying and pretending, the complete opposites of love,

Sold and bought as love, the ever-changing concept, the layers

Peeled away, deeper and deeper, holes, vanished, gone missing, hurt.


You and that photograph. Not of your own wedding.

Not of us. You’d never look at us. You looked back.

Did you look back at your own self? What they did to

That little boy? Would you recognise him at all?

Why did you never want his company? Conjure him up?

Frame him? Look at him. You could have had it in you

To finally give him love, set him truly free of inherited

And repeated bondage. You throttled him like they did.

And there they are in your house, everywhere you go,

The father’s love and belt strokes and the mother’s

Useless helping hand that didn’t interfere when it mattered most.

grayscale photography of man swishing mesh veil
Photo by Fillipe Gomes on

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