The Shadows

K. Barratt



We move lightly,

The shadows.

On the wall we stretch our fingers

Over the plaster to touch

The flower, whose fragrance

We’ll never know.

We dance with the wind

Scurrying down the door,

And the drapes in the

Front room, pretending

We are the princes and princesses

You read about to your child,

At night.

We hear you.


Hanging on to your every word,

As we squish into the corners,

Droop from lamps and bed posts.

And we follow.

Every step that you take.

We sit on the sofa with you

And see your eyes leak,

For reasons we do not understand.

We prefer the laughter we used

To hear, the morning run

In the early light.

We hardly ever can stay outside,

Yet we enjoyed our jogs,

The dew, the whispering trees,

The lazy, cold sun.

Sometimes we even

Got to go shopping,

Although we disappeared fast

Under the neon lights,

Now we are surprised by

Your choices, every time we return

Home, to the demi shade

Of the kitchen.

We know you love cheese

And dark, melty chocolate

That feels, according to you,

Like a vampire’s kiss.

We know all this and more.

At least we did.

Yet all we see is lemonade.

And cabbage, onions and carrots.


And we doubt.

We have always accepted

Our fate, the illusion we

Are supposed to be,

A dark reflection of the living,

Those deemed to be real.

The child is still real but you,

You look more and more ephemeral.

And angry and mean.

Nothing like the girl who was

Going to take the world and

Eat it with marmalade,

Whilst laughing and dancing

Ballet under the spring rains.

You are fading.

Becoming a mock of the person

You once were.

Is like the real you

Has gone away and left one

Of us, your shadows, in

Your place.

And we don’t want to play

With you anymore.

Not the short shadow

Nor the long one, nor

The tubby one, nor

The perfect fit one.

You are hollowed

And there is no being

In your eyes.

And we get scared.

When you hit her,

Scream at her,

Turn the key of her room

And walk away.

And the shadow children weep

Silently, with her.

Terrified, we are, of the

Ghost we are chained

To, of the world of ashes

You have buried yourself

And our child in.

We cannot longer be -not,

We refuse to be- with you,

Part of you.

We will brake our bounds.

We’ll fight and kick

And roar and punch

And scream and beat

And hurt and kill,

If the need be.

We shall release

Our child to the light,

And be at liberty,

Unbound, unafraid, unlimited,

Body-less shadows,

Roaming bulbs, candles, fireplaces.

Unformed, un-homed, undetected,

Yet, free.

Fully, finally, free.




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