Nancy L. Meek
THE INVISIBLE CHILD
Today, she was invisible
Among her sea of bags.
Not one soul yelled, “Get outa here
And take your filthy rags!”
Perhaps nobody noticed when
She moved here yesterday
Tomorrow, though, this all will change…
She’ll just be in the way.
Her wall-less home brings stolen stares,
A menagerie of moods…
From horror, sadness, sheer contempt
To guilt-filled platitudes.
She rants at all who come too close,
Recoils, prepared to strike.
She fears the opened, out-stretched hand
Of friend and foe alike.
Her mental illness… that’s her friend
Delusions help her cope.
She can’t imagine something’s wrong
And doesn’t know there’s hope.
No matter where the child makes camp
She brings an extra bag…
Her fear, distrust and poverty
Inside a grimy rag.
She bathes with sweat from summer’s heat
And learns to live with pain;
And shits in piles, afraid to leave
To thieves her glass domain.
Her food comes from the ones who care
Who can’t avert their eyes…
Who know (although she seems content)
Sometimes at night she cries.
This child, who thinks she knows what’s best,
Is stubborn to the core.
Oblivious to “what to do”…
Her madness screams, “Ignore!”
Just who should be responsible
For the children on the street…
Casualties on the battlefield
Who die with stinking feet?
So crowded is the judgment chair,
The stuffing’s wearing thin;
And there, but for the grace of God,
The street child sits within.
©Copyright 2001 by Nancy L. Meek
Author’s Note: I have been thinking lately how our Vets were discarded after their return home, by family, friends and society in general. Some were so injured mentally and/or physically, they could not make their own way without assistance. Thus, being so ignored, some took to the streets, homeless, forgotten and destroyed. Some have never found their way out of the gutters of society, finding a sort of home away from home, for the home they had known before the war was no longer there upon their return. Their country was not the same country they had left.
Back in the late 90’s, I read a book called, “Natalie on the Street” by Ann Nietzke, ©1994. Ann Nietzke told her story of her encounter with a homeless woman who lived across the street from her apartment. Her ever-mobile shopping cart served as home for all her worldly goods. This heart-wrenching story of this dejected and rejected soul inspired the following poem.
My hope?…… that it will speak to all who are unaware of how we should not judge others for their station in life… that we do what we can, when we can, to prevent these things from ever happening again. There is still a war going on in our country and the casualties are lying all around us, in cardboard boxes, under viaducts, in vacant and condemned buildings. You never know, one day, any one of us could find ourselves in the same situation. There are so many who live just one paycheck or one war from living on the street, from becoming handicapped and thrown away by society. Who will be next? Will it be you? Will it be me? Will anybody care?