Everyday when I drive to work and everyday when I drive home I see a woman at the traffic lights with her child. Her little boy is about 18 months old now. I have seen her there nearly every day for the past four years. I saw her during her pregnancy, during her son’s infancy and now, I am watching him grow. I often wonder, when I see these children born to poverty, what they think as they watch the world go by, frequently from a position on their mother’s back. I find it a very sad and wretched sight, so much so, that I was inspired to write this poem.
The beggar’s child
At the traffic light she stands;
On her back, a small boy;
His eyes round; deep black;
In a wizen face, bereft of joy.
What thoughts cross his mind?
As he observes in his childish way;
The endless traffic that passes by;
Throughout each and every long day.
Their well-fed occupants flash by;
Their faces just at his line of sight;
What feelings in him are aroused?
As they ignore his desperate plight.
Does it make him feel invisible?
Unwelcome in this troublesome life;
Does it develop into feelings of despair?
As their complacency cuts like a knife.
The cards he has been dealt, provide;
few opportunities to improve and learn;
How frustrating to watch the world pass by;
Knowing it will never be your turn.
If we want to see real change and difference;
We must start to recognise and right;
The casualties of poverty and indifference;
Even if our individual contribution is slight.
by Robbie Cheadle