refugee child

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
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
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,
Through desolation. 

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,
New desolation,
Of new bogeymen now upon them,
Told in the old story of the breakdown of love.  

                                © 2020 Gwen Grant



I wrote this poem a couple of years ago after a very difficult and
demanding year.   This didn’t change, though, simply going on
to bring more challenges.  


The woman who ate the moon
Lives in the trees down by the river.

Wait!  I tell a lie!

She actually lives on some small landing
Up a flight of stairs halfway to heaven,
Or resides at the bottom of a cellar temporarily,
Standing on dark, unseen tiles,
Cold, mysterious and unsettling.
Looking fantastically familiar
Should you ever catch a glimpse of her.

She has a habit of singing through the dark hours.

Sometimes of how she is made of paper
Inclined, at times, to burst into flame.

Her mind is full of brushed glass pieces
Picked up on the beach, blown lovely
By the steady rushing of the wind-blown sea,
With pebbles, sea-shells, starfish, mermaids
And the bones of the dead rattling amongst them.

After she swallowed the moon, she held it tight within,
Complaining, sometimes, that light shone right through her
And only dragons, biting and marauding, could save her,
Lending her their teeth.

At night, the sky is alive with heroes,
Blazing shields held up and ready to meet the morning.
Great wings of strength and beauty beating behind them
As they go seeking the woman who ate the moon.

But she would only let in
Those who left their shields and wings at home
As she was extremely busy making her own history.

                                                             © 2020 Gwen Grant



Closing on midnight
With the great starry fields
Lying still and quiet before me,
Moonlight falling like water
On the silent trees,
The dark earth furrows,
The creaking ice puddles,
Flickering on the ghosts of all those
Caught up in war.

Oh God, even the other world weeps
To see them drift over the empty fields,
Mixed up in their uniforms, their torn coats,
Their boots and slippers, their pretty shoes,
All creaking across the long top acres
Of bone cold stone.

Sleet tears freezing their eyes,
Frost settling on their faces
To shimmer in the half bright starlight,
Aware now of what was in front of them,
One by one dropping into the freezing mole hills
Littering the grass.

The accommodating earth tucking them in,
Nice and cosy.
Their frozen eyelids slowly closing,
Letting them sleep for ever and ever.
My own tears hurting.

                                     ©2023 Gwen Grant



My mother’s friend had long yellow hair,
Her eyes so blue, they gave me
A shock of delight whenever she looked at me,
As if a Gentian was flowering in her smile.

I loved her very much
And thought she had probably escaped
From a story book.
Turning the pages over so fast,
She was flipped into the real world.

Some great artist had drawn her,
Made her as beautiful as they could
Then set her free.

The thing I liked best was to stare at her
For as long as I was allowed to.
For as long as she would let me.
Until my mother frowned me
Into remembering my manners,
Reminding me it was unkind to stare.

All the same, I quietly held
A peck of her skirt,
A pinch of her jumper,
Just to make sure that if she
Did change back into her fairy story

She would have to take me with her.

                                          ©2023 Gwen Grant