I did not promise
to stay with you till death do us part, or 
anything like that,
so part I must, and quickly. There are things
I cannot suffer
any longer: Mother, you never, ever said
a kind word
or a thank-you for all the tedious chores I have done;
Father, your breath
smells like a camel’s and gives me the hump;
all you ever say is:
‘Are you off in the cream puff, Lady Muck?’
In this day and age?
I would be better off in an orphanage.

I want a divorce.
There are parents in the world whose faces turn
up to the light
who speak in the soft murmur of rivers
and never shout.
There are parents who stroke their children’s cheeks
in the dead of night
and sing in the colourful voices of rainbows,
red to blue.
These parents are not you. I never chose you.
You are rough and wild,
I don’t want to be your child. All you do is shout
and that’s not right.
I will file for divorce in the morning at first light.
Jackie Kay

From Jackie Kay, Darling: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2007) 

Reproduced by kind permission of the publisher.

Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults (The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award) and several for children. She was awarded an MBE in 2006.

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