Thursday, August 8, 2013

After Friday Night Comes the Morning

A family gathers Saturday morning
in the park: the mother, lean from her addiction to crack,
father with a simmering rage, barely suppressed,
deep in his ipod,
disconnected from the family,
older child bright-eyed and wary,
younger child, dull-eyed, uncoordinated 
and nonverbal with FAS.

Last night started out in party mode, 
adults laughing, chatting,
older daughter watchful,
protective of her sister,
finding something for them to eat
as their parents have little interest in dinner.
But all too soon the voices rise,
the rage is loosed,
the mother yells and weeps.
Terror, among the quaking children,
hiding in the dark.

Today is a new day: the morning after,
a sunny Saturday,
and the mother smiles her way to the swings 
with her older daughter, and they have a race
to see who can swing the highest.
Younger sister, at three still not walking, 
flops on her knees 
across the slide platform,
unaware she could fall through the hole in its side.
Finally, her father hollers at her gruffly,
grabs her foot and hauls her back.

The world of addiction means a party
every Friday night,
disintegrating into mayhem before midnight.

Its effects will live on
in the children: both the bright-eyed one,
so painfully aware,
and the dull-eyed one,
who may never fashion speech
or solve an equation
because of the legacy
of all those  Friday nights.

But as I watch the mother and daughter 
pump their legs, and smile,
swinging back and forth in sweeping arcs,
hair flying loose and blowing in the wind,
my heart is uplifted that, 
for these few moments in time,
they  are both experiencing
what it is 
to feel joy.


  1. Oh my goodness, Sherry! This is so vivid and spot on! I've seen way too many of these families. You can only hope that somewhere in the chaos they can find a few moments of joy.

  2. Sherry, your poem is stuff of real life, real people, tragedy, and joy. "A party every Friday night." --- So sad.

  3. The FAS . . . damn, Sherry; this just killed me.

  4. Sherry, one of the things I did in my career as social worker was to be a drug and alcohol counselor. I connect with your story not because I think the pair are knowing true joy, but because I know that in that connection, there's love, even if warped at times. But overall, there is always hope and often it is the children who can turn things around Wow, this poem touched my heart. Honestly, you harbor such heavy sensitivities, wisdom and I know you love too.

  5. Heart-wrenching. Truly thought provoking and touching poem.


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