In the grand scheme of things – Poetry by Alexander Matthews

I’ve gotten off lightly.
No incarceration in Ward 22 — or a concentration camp.
No chemical castration or conversion therapy. 
I am not hanging from a crane.

I didn’t heed the siren call of suicide, though
At 17 it was wailing loudly.
I slept with a steak knife in my bedside drawer,
Willing myself nightly to use it.

I’m almost twice that age now and,
After over two years of living 10,000 miles away,
I’ll soon be home again — 
Or, at least, back in Cape Town, the Mother City,
The city of my birth.

I invited my parents for lunch with my husband.
No reply, but Mom did email to say
We’re welcome to stay at their holiday home
(They won’t be there at the time).

In the shade of a tan-oak,
I hold my elbows and weep.
Steller’s jays flitter between branches.
I’m not sure what hurts more: Dad’s silence or 
Mom’s attempt at being kind.

Still, in the grand scheme of things,
I’ve gotten off lightly.

Alexander Matthews

Alexander Matthews is a freelance writer and the editor of TONGUES. Originally from South Africa, he now lives in rural Mendocino County.

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