Fear or Respect*

Rachael Joseph

The following poem  shows that to fear is not the same as to respect

I can’t forget the whipping stick, whistling as it struck,
The sting it gave, like ants that bite and leave a burning pain.
A leather strap leaving  its marks as bright red welts on soft brown skin.
Fear pulsing through every vein, whenever you appeared.
I can’t forgive the Lord above; you called on him to give you strength,
Strength to raise your hand against a child;
The punishments  that were meant to teach obedience and respect,
Though, as a child, I had no choice but to obey.
I am an adult now and you have long since passed away.
I want to say, that I no longer fear, but memories still linger.
I know I should forget, but I cannot. It saddens me
To find no gesture in  my heart that can forgive.
Respect is something you earn and if it comes from fear,
It’s not the same.

Tales From A West Indian Childhood (printed  by Morgan’s Eye Press 2020)

Available from www.rachealjosephpoet.co.uk

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