A word on killing
I’ll only say this once. Then I’m going back to writing about home,
journeys, everyday events and minor breakages—even they send
fragments far and wide.
After the murder of my father, who was stationed overseas, I couldn’t
bear that when they found the man who did it—possibly a dad—they
shot him in his bed.
My father was a soldier. This was peacetime. He’d been to the bank, was in
a Morris Minor, ferrying money to his troops. The killer was a criminal,
after easy cash.
When losing was so sharp, I couldn’t see how one more death made sense.
I was spirited at seven, fierce. Wanted justice. But that second bullet was
the first again. Despair.
Those two deaths were not political, defensive, personal or spat out
in the heat of war. They revealed to me, too young, that men—grown men—
are ruled by drives
so primitive they make a child look old. My story’s small. But scale it up
from households to whole peoples and you start to see. What I didn’t know,
while messing up
in later life, was how, through killings, roots get twisted, memories
and moods distorted, needs, compulsions, fears repeated, like they say,
down the generations.
Growing up, I couldn’t see a fictive arrow in a back, a sailor walk the plank
in black and white, spiralling Spitfires, or anything with guns. Still can’t.
I guess it was a sign.
We’re all friends here. We all agree. But what to do? The day my father
died I made a cake. Wonky, sunken in the middle. With a candle.
One small light to shine.
Sarah Wedderburn’s poems have appeared in Poems in Which and The Oxford Magazine. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2013, and in 2011 was a finalist in the Third Annual Poetry Contest run by Narrative Magazine, the online American literary journal. She lives in East Kent.