The Visit

Low-slung, hunched the houses hug

the other side of the tracks.

She’d been warned not to go but

the Ministry of Education decreed that all

ten-year-olds must be in full-time education so

when he didn’t show up for the third week to her class

when she saw that no one else noticed or cared

when the emergency phone number produced no results

she put on her rubber boots and braved

the mud across the divide.

It took many nervous side-looks and stumbles

to find the house.

There was no one wandering about, a midday

stillness of any commuter town

except it was dusk.

Herbs in pots, geraniums winked red and white,

all in earthenware, nothing rooted to the ground

in fear of rapid decampment.

A woman worn transparent and thin

was taking down the washing from the clothesline.

She startled when the teacher spoke her son’s name.

She shrugged when asked why –

no shrug of indifference this, no convincing cool.

She was too young to be adept

at arguing the merits of the Roma ways.

She missed her boy and did not want

him to beg on alien streets.

She never saw any of the money sent home anyway.

She spoke and spoke

and the teacher could not begin to comprehend

why she was so disloyal to her tribe

and wondered if she would have done the same

to someone who thought of her child

as something else

than danger and scum.

I’m linking this attempt at narrative poetry (based on a real-life situation) with the Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Join us there for some poetic fun and a wide range of styles and topics!

12 thoughts on “The Visit”

  1. I find this way of living so sad… so many forces pulling (and forcing) the children in to the ancient ways… what is the price for future? so many lessons to be taught or learned. Love the bravery of the teacher and the mother.

  2. Oh, Marina Sofia, this is powerful! I really like the way you’ve developed both main characters so effectively. And I love that perspective on being a teacher. Well done!

  3. I knew this kid in school who lived on his own. He came home one day and except for his tjings, the house was empty. He found work after school and continued on for sometime with a couple of other kids in a similar circumstance. The true Lost Boys. After a few years a teacher found out and the kids were placed in foster homes. Very sad but the kids stayed friends and ended up well. One of them ended up as a state senator.

  4. So very sad but have to give credit to that teacher who took it upon herself to follow up on her student. What’s even sadder is how prevalent this story is across the globe and how many children are faltering in life. Wonderful, powerful narrative, Marina.

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