The others drew up in an endless succession:
their unions an Alaskan wilderness;
the hangman’s lines mapped on their faces.
A cavalcade of the silently bereft,
whose unseen losses would be hidden
by the appearance of us.
And we were infant prizes,
given away in a shameless charade
of pass the human parcel.
The layers of our histories were hastily unwrapped;
discarded along with our protestations,
and our mothers’ forbidden anguish.
All safety and security annihilated,
we panicked, horrified at the unspeakable absence
of mother; of self.
We hid inside our dismal shrouds of despair,
our familiars vanished: face, voice, taste, touch, smell;
replaced by unrecognisable otherness.
They squandered our identities,
made us strangers to ourselves,
and pretenders to their inheritance.
This, then, is how we lived our childhoods:
as ghosts, like the dead, shrouded always,
and forever hidden from our mothers.