Are you happy? He asks whilst slurping his soup,

It’s his new favourite topic that goes on in a loop,

How happiness is something you find and achieve,

It’s not something that’s arbitrary, elusive, misconceived.


I am grateful for many things here in my life,

My health, this house, the heating on at night.


You’re avoiding the question, he says with a sneer,

That isn’t happiness, that’s settling because of the fear

that you cannot ask for more than you’ve got:

Which really, let’s face it Mum, isn’t a whole lot.


How do you tell him you thought that way too?

That when you were fifteen, happiness would come because you

would do all the right things, be in the right place,

That happiness was tangible, staring you right in your face?


My happiness is sitting here talking with you

(Which you know makes you sound like a doting old fool).

He rolls his eyes, drains his soup, heads straight for the door,

Clearly he’s decided you are being a real bore.


Are you happy? You ask him as he’s turning away,

No, he answers firmly. What more should I say?


Why aren’t you happy? You ask as he frowns,

What is there in this life that can get you so down?


Apart from the ice caps melting so fast?

The use of fossil fuels so we can drive really fast?

Or the global mass slaughter of animals galore,

So you can eat a nice beef steak? Wear those shoes you adore?


Aside from those things, you persistently ask,

Is there anything else that makes you question

your right to be bit happy just some of the day?

Why you frown far too regularly? Why you push me away?


Well I could ask you the very same thing:

Why don’t you wake up every day and still sing

about all of the things that you’re going to do?

Instead you’re still sleeping when I head off to school.


Now you’ve reached checkmate. The conversation is closed.

You’re both far too wary of words that expose

the manifold reasons for who isn’t here,

For who is now missing, whom you hold so dear.


He’s stopped in the doorway; you’re sitting so still,

There’s dust lining the lampshade, dust on the windowsill.

You’re stroking the cat asleep on your knee,

This feels like happiness, who says it can’t be?


I say it can’t, he says with a frown.

Don’t even pretend you don’t know he’s in town.

Parading that Bitch like a shiny new toy,

Jesus Mum, he’s acting like a spoiled little boy!


It’s just an affair, you quietly say,

You’ve said this before, you’ll say it again anyway.


Your son doesn’t get why you still stay around,

Why you make his excuses, why you don’t give a damn

about all of the women he’s gone through before,

Because you know, eventually, he’ll walk through that door.


He’ll give you that smile, he’ll hug you and say,

‘I’m home for dinner, smells good, can I stay?’


You don’t need to answer. He knows that he may,

You’ve been missing him terribly since he went away.

You’ve been smelling his shirts, wearing his used socks that stink,

You’ve been washing your hands with his soap in the sink.


You’ve barely been sleeping since the night that he went,

Your bed is so lonely, you stroke the worn dent

in the pillow beside you, where his head used be.

How can you explain this? Together you’re free.


All those rules and conventions you used to believe,

About fidelity, monogamy; that only you could be

enough for each other, no one else would really do,

If he went and slept with another, you had the right to castrate him too.


Only that’s just more bullshit, more ownership crap.

You vowed to each other you wouldn’t do that.


So now you are sitting, the cat on you knee,

With a son who you hope at one point might see

that you’re not a victim. His Dad’s not a whore.

You have chosen to live like this, even if it is sore.


You look at your son, laugh, shake your head,

I promise tomorrow I’ll get out of bed,

I’ll sing and I’ll dance as you head off to school.

If you promise to me you’ll see your Dad, you won’t be cruel?


Ok, he grunts at you, I guess I can do that.

It just really gets to me that he’s such a twat.


Well, these are the burdens you get in your life,

Just look on the bright side, parents are there to give you strife.


He turns from the doorway, he walks back to you,

He hugs you quite quickly, grins, heads to the loo.

The happiness chat is done for today,

Maybe tomorrow his Dad will be back to stay…

4 thoughts on “Happiness

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