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'If I Were made of Gold'


"They told me I would receive the utmost admiration,

If I were to head for the front line to defend our fragile nation.

I stood proud and tried to keep it together as I left my family behind.

I did not know this journey would hurt my heart and break my mind.

I missed the smell of my son's forehead when I tucked him in at night.

His little arms around my neck as he'd ask me to cuddle him 'extra tight'.

They told me this was my duty, to be proud of my sacrifice,

but when my time was served, I learned freedom's not free, I paid a heavy price.

I returned home some years ago now, but not who I was before,

A piece of me lies with my brethren, my heart is torn.

This city is where I grew up, it's loud and busy and bright,

but it seems to have forgotten me, as I get lost in a permanent, cold, dark night.

I cradled a man as he took his last breath, his blood stained my weak hands red,

The look of desperation in his eyes is all I'd see when I went to bed.

So, I stopped going to bed, I'd stay up on the couch and drink 'til the night was black,

I didn't know how to move forward from this but I knew I could never go back.

My little boy is bigger now, he's a bright lad, doing well in school,

But I've heard he's being teased there because "His Dad's a drunken fool".

It's been 8 months since they left me, but they are not to blame, I left them no choice, my depression got worse, any mother would have done the same.

The debts got bigger, the rent unpaid, the darkness took all of my senses,

now here I am with my life in a back pack, seeking solitude on park benches.

I remember my days in uniform, the pride in my son's eyes touched my heart,

Now only the drink has mercy on me, allows me not to feel the months we've been apart.

I've been spat on, kicked, beaten and bruised, I've been urinated on as I slept,

What happened to my beloved home city, why was I so easy to forget?

"You'll never walk alone" you said, but here I am alone in the darkness,

The city I grew up in was never known to be this heartless.

I never saw my life this way but I don't know how to recover,

I don't know how to find the help to get back to my son and his mother.

The unknown, the fear, the shame and the darkness keep me prisoner here and I'm lost, They say I'm a drunk so I'm back of the queue, helping me would be too big of a cost.

I look around this city though and see the money in the artwork and statues erected,

The irony of the cenotaph when we ignore those that war has affected.

We embellish the city with monuments of our best scousers, young and old.

I'm sorry to make the streets look untidy, would you value me if I were made of gold?"

- Mother Earth (Katey Burke)

Photography: Bri Mansy

Model: Victoria 'Silver' Smith

The Starfish Project: Service
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