The gift


The Gift – Simon Armitage

From here it looks like an everyday tale
Of girl meets boy, and boy meets girl
In a sun-soaked, far flown part of the world.

She’s carrying water back from the well;
He’s circling around on rusty wheels.
He’ll spin her a line, she’ll chance a smile;
He’ll lend a hand, offer a ride.
He’ll teach her his balancing act for a price,
For a price.

And later that night the moon is a sign
Saying everything’s good,
Everything’s right.
She’ll see his face when she closes her eyes;
Breathe his name, breathe it over, and over again.

She’ll pin a wish on her favorite star;
He’ll steal her heart in more ways than one.
But for now, it’s sweet, for now it’s fine;
And the days roll in, and the days roll by.

She’ll swear an oath, he’ll take a vow,
For better or worse, ‘till death do part.
And daylight silently closes its doors,
And night-time’s curtains are slowly drawn.

He’ll offer his all, she’ll open her soul;
And dawn follows dusk, and dusk follows dawn.
And love brings life, love multiplies;
It’s the way of the world, or so we’re told.

But all isn’t well, all isn’t good;
And he’ll swear on his life, and swear to God.
But the tests don’t lie, and his gift to her
Was graver than life, darker than love;
A ghostly sickness, deep in the blood.

And the girls at the well will cut her dead,
And the eyes of the world will look away.
And this is the story,
Year upon year,
Day upon day,
Hour upon hour.

How a fatal heirloom is doing the rounds;
A most unwelcome hand-me-down.
A spiraling sickness, a sickening scourge;
Raging through nations:

Heart to heart,
Blood to blood,
Husband to wife,
Lover to lover,
Life to life,
Offspring to offspring,
On and on,
To daughter, to son,
Handed over and passed along,
Carried by links in the family line.

So an innocent mother will give to her child
A gift it could very well live without.
And a child before it has taken breath,
Is delivered into the arms of death.

And it happens again, and it happens again,
And again, and again, and again, and again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

End this connection
Break the chain.

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