Gerry Miller’s poem ‘The Kiss’ was announced as the recent winner of the prestigious creative writing competition organised by the Peterborough ‘Poetry Rivals’ literary group. The competition attracted more than 5,000 entries.
When he was born and came home with his mother
we were afraid on our own to look after our treasure.
When he lay still in his cot we looked at each other
and gave him a kiss to check he was breathing.
He was just a small child that first day at school.
Proudly we watched as he skipped with his friends up the lane.
He never looked back nor saw the tears in our eyes
as we blew him a kiss from hearts full of pain.
Later he walked to the Cubs with his friend
staying together and looking both ways at the kerb
before crossing the road then straight home at the end.
Both going and coming too old for a kiss.
In his teens he loved going out on his bike
up and away when he saw the sun rise.
He always was home before darkness to tell us
where he had been. The kiss was in all our eyes.
When he started to drive he knew how we worried
and told us exactly where he would be
He assured us that driving he never hurried
and gave his mother a kiss before going to bed.
Until that night. We both looked at each other
when the clock struck eleven and our hearts turned cold
we made excuses and turned the t-v down
to hear the car come home. The kiss was on hold.
Minutes turned into hours and our feelings changed.
Telling each other there was nothing amiss
but increasingly angry because it was strange –
bewildered and aching to give him his kiss.
Saying nothing we knew we would have to ask
how he could treat us like this after all we had done
and ask if the kisses meant nothing to him
when he knew how we worried until he came home.
The phone never rang. Lights went out all around.
Anger plotted how to deal with the boy. Night wore
on and off until the doorbell rang as daylight dawned
to silhouette a policeman standing at the door.
We were shamed of our anger as we were told
that our precious son did all he could to miss
the speeding driver. For hours he lay dead in a ditch.
And we were not there to give him his kiss.