the transport (fr. Sweetheart, over____)

A little girl.
She hears her parents
Arguing in the hallway.
She can tell by the tone.

They come and say
To pack her little suitcase.
It’s not yet light.

It’s like a funny game.
But she does as they ask,
To make them feel better,

Because she knows that it’s not.
She knows by the tone.

So she goes along with it,
With her parents,
With them,
And it’s cold out of bed.

She pulls her clothes on
Over her pyjamas.
Some shells she collected
Rattle in the pocket of her coat.

She wonders for a moment
If it’s something she’s done.
Every girl her age has heard about children
Who are sent away.

She packs her little suitcase,
With her doll,
A book
And her best green dress.

And when she gets outside,
When she gets to the gate,
She notices the others.

Other shadows are coming
Out of all the other houses,
Each with a little suitcase.

Afterwards she can’t say,
Which of her parents woke her up,
Who it was who helped her pack
Her best things,

Who got her dressed, or,
Whether, at last,
It was her mother or father
Who carried her outside,
Past the front gate.

Because in her mind
They’ve become one.

Later they’ll insist
That they didn’t tell her,
Because she wouldn’t have understood
And didn’t want to go.

But this isn’t true.
She understood,
At the time,
The important thing.

It was a game,
And her parents were acting.
She could tell by the tone.

Even later, if they ask her
What she remembers
She’ll face them,

The ranks of all
The mothers and fathers,
Standing as one,
In sunlight,
And say,

That at the time she was real,
They weren’t, and
When she was serious
They were just play-acting.

(June, 2006)