when you grow up in chaos,
you never really learn
what safe feels like.
the fear of your parents’ arguments
the shame of leaving with your mother
the pain of coming to recognize her addiction—
it seeps into every interaction
until you’re losing friends because you
can’t invite them over. using birthday
money to pay for groceries. missing a father
who’s too hurt to be there.
you do everything and anything to keep the secret:
my home is not safe
sickened with responsibilities and
lack of care
you learn to look for someone
who will look after you
but you ignore the warning signs
the legacy of instability
running through your veins
makes you an easy target.
it made your mother one, too.
that’s how, years after,
you sit in the spare bedroom
texting your brother
he just —
don’t tell anyone.
Kiera Obbard is a poet living in Waterloo, Ontario and a Ph.D. student in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Her SSHRC-funded project examines the complex social, cultural, technological and economic conditions that have enabled the success of social media poetry in Canadian publishing. Follow her on Instagram @kieraobbard or visit her website www.kieraobbard.ca