Little barefoot girl with matted hair,
Blue eyes wide with questions,
I saw you standing there,
And only smiling once.
You were made for smiles,
For laughter and giggles and tickles,
Like all girls are.
But your big blue eyes never laughed.
They’ve seen more than I ever have.
How you cowed when your mom scolded you,
And I don’t apologize for scolding her in turn.
She said you’re a nuisance. I said you’re precious.
You hadn’t even asked for a sweetie like all children do.
You just stood there.
If your mother says one ugly word to you again in my hearing,
I’ll defy her again. And I’ll sweep
You into my arms and hold you tight
And dream big for you.
I want to rub your frigid feet
And brush your stringy hair.
I’d get you a fuzzy shirt with pink and purple stripes
To warm you
And cover your scars.
I dream that you’ll come home with me.
I want to see those gorgeous eyes laugh!
I’d put little wellies on you and hold your hand
And let you gather warm eggs from our hens.
Inside again, I’d hold you and read stories–
Pooh, and The Nutcracker.
Your mom makes me too angry for words.
Tears squeeze out and blur my
Happy shop-keeper personae.
I want to scream and throw things
And hurt her worse than she hurt her girl.
She doesn’t deserve you. She deserves
To go barefoot on Christmas Eve like you.
She’s gone. You’re gone. To Wales, your sister said.
Anger on your behalf won’t help you
And only depresses me.
I can only cry and hope and pray
That you’ll find shoes on Christmas Day,
And loads of sweeties because you’ve been so good.
I dream for you big cuddly hugs
From someone who loves you,
And the shrieks of fun and giggles
That all girls want.
I hope the anger never goes away completely.
I hope I’ll always fight for the sad little people I meet.
Old beyond your years,
Haunted by grisly fears,
You have one safe place to run to.