Watching 'High Chaparral" I began to cry
Manolito's love had been shot and killed
and as she faded away in his arms
the look of pain in his eyes
tortured me beyond bearing.
My father smiled "Don't be sad
she's only a celluloid casualty."
He knew instinctively that the phrase would
distract me. I loved new words
I learned what he meant
but still I cry at movies and shows
and even adverts on occasion.
Actors so adept at suffering
I watch them closely
knowing it isn't real
yet feeling it keenly
as if it were.
Real pain, real suffering is ugly.
I flinch away, cannot look.
I never asked my father
about his time in the camp.
Never dared see what could
be in his eyes,
never risked the torture
it might provoke.
I change the tv channel
as we always did when holocaust
images crop up.
I honour my father by looking away
but sob as if my heart would break
when I witness celluloid casualties.
This poem appears in Alternative Poetry Books - Pink edition.