god bless the child

(c) Kat McDonald 2014

poor baby

after being on the wrong bus, i finally embarked on the correct one.  the one that would take me directly home.

the bus was busy and full of babies.  babies on laps, babies in uteri and babies in buggies.

i sat by the window behind a young couple and their baby. the mother sat, feeding her podgy face with a stodgy pie. i watched as she swilled it down with a tin of Tenants’ Super-Strength lager.

the father sat, tin of Super-Strength in one hand and his chewing gum in the other, with their offspring strapped against his chest in a baby sling.  the child stared at me.  he was fastened to his father, fastened to that Super-Strength world.  the child had an old face.  i named him Kal El.

the mother rummaged in her bag and took out another stodgy pie and continued to feed her fat face.  the smell of her perfume barely masked the smell of stale sweat.

to the right of me, a woman sat smiling to herself.  her face was all covered in warts.

at the front, a well-dressed proud grandmother sat with her grand-daughter in a buggy.  the little toddler struggled with a ridiculously over-sized bow in her hair.  the child squirmed and fidgeted, close to tears.  her bottom lip trembled.

“stop touching it!” scolded the glamorous grandmother, loudly.  “it looks pretty!” she said, her voice softening as she saw my scowl.

the little girl continued to try to yank the bow from her head, but the grandmother kept insisting it remained on and kept pushing it back up on the little girl’s head.  and she kept scolding the little girl.  the little girl’s lip continued to tremble and my heart sank.

‘is she her grandmother or her fashion stylist?’  i wondered to myself.

the Super-Strength parents got up to exit the bus, yanking the arm of their other offspring. he was a young boy, perhaps three years old, with carrot-coloured hair and a stream of green running from his nose.   the little boy glanced at me.  he looked sad.  my heart sank further down into the pit of my gut, and it hurt.  he too looked old.

by the time i disembarked, i felt old.

i walked slowly home from the bus stop, dragging my heart behind me.

but “God bless the child that’s got his own… that’s got his own…”

(c) Kat McDonald 2014





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