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C.C. Hogan

What was it?

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When I was about fifteen, there was a girl who lived near us, my age, who knew she was gay. This was the seventies and her parents did not understand; the church the family attended did not understand. So, she ran away.

It was a minor scandal and the sympathy for the parents from most was acute, though some in her church said that it was the parent's fault the girl was gay. No one seemed to have any sympathy for the girl. What was wrong with her? What was is about her that would do this to her parents?

When I left home several years later, the parents still had not heard from her. I have no idea where she went. She was nice and deserved better. This poem is about what I hoped happened.

UPDATE: Since writing this, an old friend has told me that the girl was alright, though gave me no details. She never again saw her parents, however.

What was it
About the morning now?
Her hairbrush, cleaned
Thrown to the bottom of her bag
To fall on toothbrush
Small change

What was it
That they said to her?
Your anger, always
Hurled into our faces
Tearing our lives apart
That is you

What was it
About the road outside?
So empty, this early
No one to judge her here
Her sex

What was it
About the bus station?
The bench she sat on
Uncertain of herself
A little
Lonely now

What was it
About the love she needed?
The love her parents
So condemned her of

What was it
About the cold ocean here?
A simple choice of
Living or dying
An end
No more

What was it
About the girl who sat with her?
Held her hand caringly
For just a little while
Knowing her
Loving her
That is not her

What was it
About being lost with another?
Sharing feelings her
Parents said were evil
But felt
Safe now

What was it
About sitting in the church?
Others judging us as if
Her sins were our fault
She's lost
Can't forgive
Ourselves now


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North London, 1976. The longest, hottest summer on record. The water is running out and the kids hate their parents. Which bunch of idiots would think it is a good idea to start a band?

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