When I was ten and very poorly, I was sent to a kind of hospital school three
hundred miles away from my home to get better. I felt so lost, unhappy and
alone, I ran away on a night thick with snow, determined to get back home.
I’d read all the stories of children on their own – Hansel and Gretel, Snow
White, the children in the Bible constantly on the move and they consoled
me. But here we are, decades later, and like the children in the stories I
told myself all those years ago, they are still being pursued by the inhumanly
vicious. When will it end?
That night, in wicked December,
When the moon shone
Through the dark tops of trees
Onto the sparkling snow.
The sea rolling over the silent sand,
The water so cold and slow
Even Neptune was frozen,
Frightened by the frost hardened foam.
That was the night she began
The three hundred mile walk home.
Sure it would take no time at all.
She was sick of the great old house
In dark shadow behind her,
With its white beds, white walls
And fierce purple uniforms.
She wanted to sleep in her own bed,
With the candle on the window sill,
Unlit, but ready for any emergency.
A bad dream. The eerie sound
Of a bogeyman almost upon her.
As she walked, she remembered
All the stories she had heard
Of children walking.
Walking back to their own home,
Looking for a new one.
Some together. Some like her, alone.
Walking through flame and fire and snow,
She didn’t get home that night,
Neither did they.
Even Neptune almost didn’t make it.
But they remember,
Those children walking alongside each other,
That night in wicked December.
And still they walk,
Told in new stories of new suffering,
Of new bogeymen now upon them,
Told in the old story of the breakdown of love.
© 2020 Gwen Grant