If I could I would prescribe as treatment
the back-pats of small girls.
It is not possible, it isn’t legal
girls not being employable as masseuses
in any but the most disreputable hell-hole in this world
but I believe, from when I had daughters
their hands contain a cure –
it isn’t knowledge, or practise,
it is the love that only young girls bring –
it is the kind caress that girls’ hands lay upon your skin
before they have learned to resent
or know your face for all its sins
and know the sound of your voice
and what its explanations leave unhealed
and know the darkness in the ring
after their father’s voice became a shout once too often.
It is the only cure that I would know
for what you have described –
but as I say, that pain is raw
and there is no way now I could provide
what you and I may need
now that the remedy is gone
and the only hands you find
know too much and lay tripwires in the dawn.