For some reason (probably because I've been talking to my daughter about one of her friends) i have the whole parents-and-children-and-abuse thing on my mind this afternoon. It probably doesn't help that we're going to the theatre tonight to see a play that has something to do with a nun wondering whether a priest is a paedophile. So I thought I'd post a poem I wrote some years ago when I was dealing very heavily with abuse issues. Please don't read it if such subject matter upsets you. It's not graphic, my father was not a sexual abuser, but it does say some pretty strong things about the emotional wounds that fathers can inflict.
OUR FATHER (Mine said, “You’re not good enough”
All my best efforts were still poor and bad.
He stamped the F for failure on my life.)
WHO IS IN HEAVEN (Earth is very sad.)
HALLOWED (I am unholy through and through,
A thing polluted) BE YOUR NAME (He would
Not let me call him Dad. He liked respect.
Besides he wasn’t Dad -- I never could)
YOUR KINGDOM COME (I could not bear to live
In his whose reign meant deadly slavery)
YOUR WILL BE DONE (I never could obey)
ON EARTH AS HEAVEN (Still I am not free)
GIVE US TODAY (That I might know it’s real.
He promised things he never meant to give)
OUR DAILY BREAD (He thought a stone would do.
Why should his little robot wish to live?)
FORGIVE OUR DEBTS (I owed so very much
Food, shelter, clothing, and the dignity
Of carrying his name. There was a price
I must repay. The cost was bankruptcy)
AS WE FORGIVE (And still the anger burns
Deep underground. A smoulder of such heat,
Exposure would burst forth a wall of flame,
And my long self-control would know defeat.)
LEAD US NOT IN TEMPTATION (Little girls
Must be seen but not heard. They must not speak
Truth, but do nothing. Emptiness is good,
Virtue is passive, useless, small and weak)
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (He flung me
Over to wolves who joyed to bite and tear.
What did it matter what became of me?
I didn’t matter, I was only spare.)
YOURS IS THE KINGDOM (He shall reign no more)
AND THE POWER (Love is greater than his lies)
AND THE GLORY (Lord, how can I honour him?)
FOREVER (Let the tears dry from my eyes)
Note: if anyone's wondering, not only was my father very emotionally abusive (a rageaholic perfectionist, for starters), he did nothing to protect his little girl from others.