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Updated: Dec 15, 2023

My da was ‘working away’; we went to school,

he never mentioned that he was leaving

Why would he leave without a word or a kiss;

wasn’t that rather amiss?

My ma had been crying, and I wondered

if they’d had a fight, but yet, his clothes

were all there, apart from his suit

and his black shoes

Sent over to the shops for milk and bread

The shopkeeper looked at me differently

I was old for my years and I sensed judgement

in those eyes of hers

The neighbours looked but avoided eye contact

No hello or smile

Ma slept a lot and she was always skint

Sunday was the worst; no ice cream for us

If da was working away, why didn’t he send money?

Does he not love us?

And why didn’t he take his clothes?

If yer da’s working away,

why do you get free dinners?

My classmates taunted me;

did they know something I didn’t?

And then it happened, my teachers

whispering in the class

My friend heard them say that da had been put away

and my sorrow turned to shame

We were outcasts, or so it seemed

What did this mean?

Would da be put away for good?

Would we never see him again?

One year passed and we visited him

in Barlinnie

He wore a red striped shirt

and he had a beard and I couldn’t touch him

through the reinforced glass

Forty five minutes we had

He gave the warden some dainties for us

I wondered how he got to the shops

And then the bell rang; all we saw was his back

as he walked away

Why am I writing this, I hear you say

Well, magic for me was when da came home

And he wasn’t behind reinforced glass and

I could touch his beard

When a parent goes to jail,

the family serve the time, without the luxury

of a heated cell and three hot meals a day

They serve their sentence,

consumed with shame and worthlessness

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