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The Boy at Lunch
I see you every day at lunch.
There’s never any food on your tray.
You sit alone on a bench outside.
The friends you have exchange conversations hastily;
But you just sit quietly never smiling or saying a word.
All you do is flip your hair away from your face
And sit hunched staring at your feet.
The jacket you wear is old and worn.
It’s too small
And the holes reveal cut and bruises
That you’ve tried to hide.
These cuts and bruises tell me that
Your home life is a nightmare.
Your father drinks
And your mother and sister cannot escape him.
You take their beating and your own.
He’s so out of it he’ll never notice any difference.
You dare not tell anyone the truth—
You love them all so much
And you don’t want to lose them.
There are chains around your neck and waist.
Your hands are very unsteady.
At night you go off with your friends and get high
Only to come home to a broken family.
Your door is locked;
You pick up the guitar by the bed.
The music drowns out the screams,
But only a little.
You crouch down in a ball
Desperate for an escape.
But you know you have to listen
Because mother may need your help soon.
So you come to school all shy and aloof.
Most don’t even know you exist.
But I make it a point to find you at lunch.
Just to make sure you’re still there.