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what safe feels like - Kiera Obbard

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



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