SHADOW AND LIGHT

At 22,
I knew as much of myself
As the exotic world
I’d just found
With streets willing me
To walk them
Witness them
And be wooed by them.
My twenties
Had typically emerged
As a decade to be a no one;
An empty slate to be carved upon
Before my thirties would find me
And shout me with substance.

I’d lost parents
Before knowing them; given up
In a sacrifice of selflessness
Almost incomprehensible
And found
In the arms of another mother
A love that would prove
Incontestable.

I searched,
During infantile years,
Amid childish ego
And innocence,
For connections
To those around me;
The mother
Loved so unequivocally
And the father
Aged in aggression,
With a gap too great to bridge
And so I turned to walk
Shadowy miles of roads in my head,
Clumsily cramming teenage years
With classically confusing
Childish dribble,
Trying to sound like a grown-up
In size 6 shoes,
Feeling different,
Unknown,
And, more often than not,
Undiscovered.

Finally,
I braved knocks on dark doors-
Frequented bars in back lanes
And alley ways,
Away from the eyes of the pious
Whose ignorance
Bullied the boys
With different desires.
I kissed
My first boy
At 18
Behind a sofa
As excited as a child
On Christmas morning,
Finding courage
Behind shades and acceptance
In a community I had become
No longer
Soul member of.

Cuddling and kissing progressed,
Over time, to sweaty,
Fumbling, amateur athletics
Behind the lights
Replacing shame and catholic guilt
With newfound feelings of freedom
As I began
To notch my way
Onto bedposts
Of various conquests.

Between courtings
I often cried
For lovers in whose arms
I should never have laid
And wondered why I ran
From others in whose embrace
I should have stayed,
All but memories
Patterned into the tissue
Of my sleeve-worn,
Still learning, heart,
Cherished moments
That wished to be relived
Along with others
That longed for time to fade.

I had assumed these
To be bruises
As I fell upon these new
Foreign streets
But have recognised them since
To be no more than lifelines,
Imprints, echoes merely of
Shadow and light.

They were all
Important diversions
Along the road,
Pivotal points
Goading me
Into this very direction.
Some of them
Fell away by your banks
And others settled in,
Ingrained themselves like streets
That mapped themselves
Out in front of me
And gradually,
Over time,
Carved their way
Indelibly
Inside of me.

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