The Secret Vice

Form: 35 lines free verse

They hushed their voices
behind doors, whispered in darkness
about her, her next door
with red cheeks and short skirts
so quiet, we couldn’t hear it.
Mother, still in the beauty of youth
sitting at the old kitchen table
with the woman from down the street
orange squash and cake on a spring day
and the breeze blew
check blue curtains billowed
waiting for us to go play outside
Behind closed doors they argued
not caring what we heard
as shards of a white china plate
covered the chessboard floor
and the glass shattered
as he slammed the front door
Every night in the darkness
we’d call out for mum
but mum never answered
asleep on the sofa
orange squash in a glass
hugged in her hand
Mother yelling to put the bins out
and I didn’t question
the gin bottles hidden beneath
empty plastic bottles of orange squash
and I never told a soul
it was our secret
Photo by cottonbro on


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