HAND ME DOWN

At the age of eight my mother left us

a disaster was predicted

but never happened.

I examined the world

with one less voice to warn me off

stuck my fingertips into all and sundry

with one less pair of hands to swat me away from danger.

She came back, unannounced

a burst of joy was predicted

but never happened.

My explorations were a thing of the past

Shrill voices outdid each other with contradictory warnings

my fingertips never got dirty

and stinging slaps from four hands steered me from danger.

I was kept far away from

the fruit of the tree of knowledge

Wisdom was a hand me down

well worn, tried and true

from priests and parents.

Founts of wisdom had their origins

in the springs of the certainty of the establishment.

I forgot the odours from my fingers’ seekings

did not trust the veracity of my own experiences.

knowledge was trickle down assimilation

judged on a scale of hundred,

with red ticks from examiners who never saw one,

ending in framed Diplomas

bordered in gold, stamped by incompetents.

Now restored in middle-age

to trusting my faculties again

I start to wallow in guilt

for never giving my children

the certainty of trickle down knowledge.

They burn their finger and dirty their hands

and I stand frozen.

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