Being-in-the-world Part 1: children born to parents who don’t want them


This Cold Hollow

How did I know that you had left me before I knew the words for empty, lost, bereft?  Before my birth scar?  Before I witnessed the guillotine of your contempt?  Before I could control my bowel, or tie my shoe, or awakened trembling in the night. Before you scoffed at me as I learned to walk.

A wild bird born in a shoebox senses an unknown world through its wings; a child through the smell of cigarette tar on net curtains; through warm piss in a cold bed; and the distance he can spit through the school railings.

Like bread stolen from the poor, I anticipate the tension and release of a hunger that rises and falls beneath my sternum, not in the empty belly.  Thrown back upon myself, my terror swarms like Starlings and ground glass into the shadow of a hook I put around my neck.  Around every look I give you.  Into every time you look askance.  Into your hard edges; your coy softness with others.  I become sawdust to your floor.  And you, unreachable, no matter the denials, the blood spilled, or the threat of life or death.


Empty parking space.  Trees without leaves.  A sky without a Sun.  Rain on the back of a hand.  Space without belonging.  There is no place for me.

And so, I learn to forget myself as I too am forgotten.  The way we all forget a shrub, a drain cover, or algebra.  I forget my hunger in an effort to forget the pain of you remembered.  I let the door swing on my hand to bring me from old to new, uncomplicated pain; to rescue my longing from your death coil.

I forget the throat-ache of my sorrowful song.

Instead, I stand on stage with a side parting, no cleft palate; no club foot; no Tiny Tim of brace and buckle.  I worry about money and diplomas and cancer, and whether everyone on Earth will share the double helix of your eternal absence and indifference, in this cold hollow.

© Copyright Notice: All original artwork, photographs, written and audio material on this website is subject to copyright and cannot be used, shared or reproduced without permission and clear attribution being made to the author.  Please contact me if in doubt.  Other images are used under Creative Commons licences where attributed e.g., and Wikipedia Commons.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. A very powerful tale Stephen; raw, open and honest, with a bitter twist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephen says:

      An all-too common experience for many Caz. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed it is Stephen x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am very glad that I discovered your blog on Mother’s Day.
    Mother’s Day is fraught with many mixed feelings for people whose mothers were far from perfect.
    Thanks for posting. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephen says:

      Thank you Sally. I’m sure a lot of people will relate to your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Stephen ! Yes, I think that it is best to be truthful about motherhood.
        Of course this is a day when Mothers are honoured, and rightly so, but let us feel a special empathy today for people whose mothers did not live up to the category of the ‘ideal’ mother.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Geri Lawhon says:

    A very powerful post filled with much sadness. Thanks for posting this as it must be told.


    1. Stephen says:

      Many thanks Geri

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Powerful and moving. This is poetry by another name.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephen says:

    Thank you Anna.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.