Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Diary

He picked up the faded diary
That had lain in his mother’s chest,
Along with a host of her recipes
That she’d saved in her little nest,
He’d just come straight from her fading eyes
When she’d, fraught, reached out for his hand,
‘Don’t ever believe, for the eyes deceive
What a moment of madness penned.’

‘There are things you never should read, my son,
There are things that you shouldn’t know,
For life is a series of scenes and dreams
Like you see in a picture show,
There is love, distress, and bitterness
That has nothing to do with you,
So promise me that you’ll burn the book,
That you won’t read a page or two.’

He nodded his head at the coming grief
As the tears welled up at his eyes,
And her hand went slack, with pure relief
At the last of her offspring’s lies.
She stared intent for a moment then
To capture the much loved face,
Then breathed her last as the moment passed
And lay in a state of grace.

His grief burst out in a torrent, as
He sat by his mother’s bed,
His shoulders heaved as he tried to cleave
To the last that his mother said:
‘Be sure to burn all the papers that
I’ve hidden in drawer and nook,
I’ll never rest ‘til you’ve passed the test,
Be certain to burn the book! ’

He paced the floor when he got back home
He paced on into the gloom,
The night came down as he stumbled round
In the house, as still as a tomb.
He spared a thought for his father, gone
And the thought had trembled his lip,
With just the occasional birthday card
Kept under his pillow-slip.

He’d never known why his father left,
Or why his mother was grim,
She’d weep at night with him tucked up tight,
It was nothing to do with him.
He’d reach on out, she’d push him away
On the nights when her grief was worst,
So he’d curl up under the blankets, thought
His life and his love were cursed.

He’d watched her pull out her diary
And fill up her pen with ink,
He never knew what she was writing there
But it gave him pause to think,
In the morning it was hidden away
Far from his prying eyes,
When he’d ask her what she’d written there
She would snap, ‘Just words and lies! ’

And now he held the very same book
In the palm of his shaking hand,
He knew that he shouldn’t open it
But his conscience said, ‘I can! ’
There were reams and reams of terrible scrawl
Of torment, deep despair,
In a wild, embittered, sad harangue
Like claws in her windswept hair.

There were pleas to her absent husband, saying
‘How could you ever go?
It only happened the once, I swear,
You know that I love you so! ’
He flicked through pages, further along
Where the writing was underlined,
‘How could a single fall from grace
See love being so unkind! ’

He took the diary out to the bin
And he put a match to the page,
He shouldn’t have read his mother’s sin
Not now that he’d come of age,
As the pages blackened and curled away
He regretted all that he’d done,
For the final page revealed her rage,
She’d written: ‘I hate my son! ’

8 August 2013

Submitted: Thursday, August 08, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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