The Neighbour's Boy

I’m listening to the clutter of my childhood,
counting up the hours it’s still taking me to
acknowledge the domestic abuse

I can hear your boy begin wailing;
there’s no bang, no thud of knuckles hitting skin
but the cacophony of confusion is cloying

He’s in school, I know.
I’ve watched him trot behind you in purple uniform
his own anger cloaking him like an oversized ghost

Through the walls those grown begin to argue again,
the door slams and I watch him leave
I’m winded by the knowledge that I cannot offer shelter

He scowls, marches up and down the street
he kicks bikes, litter, bins, bushes.
His anger is so, so present; dangerously bitter.

I wonder when he realised anger goes down easier
than tears. When he first began to swallow the pain
and raise his voice, his fists, instead.

Most days I pray you’ve given him breakfast:
porridge, milk, golden apples, drizzled honey
At this point, the weak uncertainty is of little comfort.

I can smell the sharp sourness of desperation on him
a child, with no more power to change his fate than I do.
These tallied up non-actions will accompany me to the grave.