The woman at house 43

The woman who lives at house forty three
has got six children. (That's six more than me.)
How does she cope with her workload?
It's a logistical challenge just crossing the road!

I think she's had a life that's quite tough.
Her eyes are vacant and her voice is quite gruff.
She has wiry hair and is as thin as a rake
and when she talks her hands tremble and shake.

I can hear them coming from some distance away.
She shouts and she shrieks at her kids every day.
When she walks with the buggy, she strides at a pace.
The children behind her jog along in a race.

The men who frequent her house look like trouble.
She comes to the door still away in her bubble.
Her face looks so drawn as she laughs through her daze.
The man in the car drives off as she waves.

A little while later a toddler escapes.
She's forgotten to close one of the gates.
He picks at the weeds that grow in the drive
dressed only in nappies. A miracle of life.

He stumbles bare foot close to the road.
Hairs rise on my skin and there's a lump in my throat.
In two seconds flat he's held in my arms,
this blond headed boy that's now safe from harm.

He looks at me startled, but doesn't utter a sound.
Grubby faced innocence. His cheeks smooth and round.
His body relaxes as I whisper reassurance
a smile appears with a shy sideways glance.

My thoughts can't be stifled as I think of his mum,
I'd like to do her a favour by keeping this one.
I'd love him and raise him as if he were mine.
I'd nurture and praise him and give him my time.

Perhaps she'll not notice if I take him with me
to become part of my own longed for family.
I'm sure she can make do with one less off-spring.
In fact, she may thank me for taking him in.

The toddler is holding me tight as I stand
in front of his door. (This is not what I'd planned.)
His mother appears and he's whisked away
to join his siblings and be told 'Shut up and play!'

Occasionally I see him or hear him cry
the toddler in nappies with piercing blue eyes.
I nod at his mother when she passes me,
this world-weary woman at house forty three.

But several weeks later, we see that they've left.
(We'd seen police people in thick stab-proof vests!)
I still think of that child and the life that he'll lead.
That where ever he is, he will thrive and succeed.

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