Stolen Memories

My heart knew as soon as I saw his face – your father’s,
Drawn and ashen; tears clawing troughs through his skin.
He held out your lost shoe in his trembling hand, as if by way of explanation.
His only offer of apology for letting you out.
For letting you go.

They’d come as they always did.
Predators, praying on the strong and the young, taking their fill.
And those young lives, full of such innocence and promise
Herded and chained like animals
And treated worse.

I wonder to what distant shores those phantom whites took you
Upon the waves and storms of sickness and death
I thought I saw you once in the market-place, and ran to nothing
But eyes dry with grief
See ghosts everywhere.

Every passing day of every year since, I look to the sky
Seeking comfort in the hope that you, too, still live to see
And I sleep with your shoe wrapped in my redundant arms
And pray that your house
Is more home than this.