Recently, I spotted a little footprint left by my son on the bathroom floor.
I captured it with my camera, and was unexpectedly hit with grief about the various tragedies unfolding across the world. It’s strange how a single image can do that. I was moved to write a poem, which you can read below.
I’d love to be able to raise some funds to help our local volunteer group ship the donations to where they are needed. There are links to the crowdfunding page at the bottom of the post.
Footprints on the Bathroom Floor
I see your footprints on the bathroom floor,
tiny, precious echoes of the evening before.
First you kicked, then you splashed and rubbed soap in your eyes,
in a towel I cocooned you; I bundled you dry.
A mist of white talc, infectious squeals of delight
Skin so perfect and chubby, squirming kisses goodnight.
Drumming feet in the night, making prints in the snow.
Then chases with funny faces, and to bed we all go
making marks on the tiles, “there’s no time for more”.
I see your footprints on the bathroom floor.
Next morning you are out, but soon to return.
Quietly I pad through the house to discern
the state of the chaos which needs to be righted.
The chaos of the privileged, not of the blighted.
I pause and crouch down, am I seeing it right?
Your tiny toe-scuffs remain from last night.
I imagine if these were all I had left;
If just the echo of you was all of the rest.
I’d leave it untouched for a year and a day
I’d frame it and hold it, I’d cling on and pray.
So what of the others, with feet cold and sore,
Soon to be echoes on their bathroom floor?
When the prints are from feet both shrivelled and numb,
there’s not enough heat in the cold winter sun.
They ran and they swam, struggled hard, held on tight.
Clung to hope where there was none, through torturous night.
The faces in their chases bore torment and despair.
The children of war, they ask – do you care?
Will you bundle them dry, wrap them up, keep them warm?
Will we deliver the means to endure the harsh storm?
While soaking and freezing – their baby awakes,
but little lord Europe, no protest she makes
as the children, they wilt and can cope with no more –
Soon to be echoes on the world’s cold floor.
On the next doorstep, we didn’t foresee,
She was dancing and swirling in the land of the free;
When one day things changed, and abruptly it’s us-
The white talcum cloud is replaced with pink dust.
Instead of warm water, bedtime baths and delight
the droplets are crimson; she’s awakened our fright.
Wasn’t it only yesterday that this tortured mother saw
Her tiny wet footprints on her bathroom floor?
There’s no ‘us and them’; there’s just ‘you and me’
Now we know why they run; we share their disease.
But the infection is not defined by a creed or a race –
it’s staring each of us square in the face
And demanding of us ‘tell me which side are you on?’
For fear is so easy to prey upon.
I’m tired of opinion, of social media agenda,
of changing my pic from May through to December
until the whole world forgets and moves on to the next
While their feet still shrivel and their homes are still wrecks.
One less latte each day mounts to pennies galore –
and one less pair of frozen feet on our communal floor.
I see your fresh footprints on the welcome mat
I’m so happy to see you, looking healthy and fat.
Come in from the rain, we’ll bundle you dry.
Shed your tears here, we’re with you – together we’ll cry
for a broken world hurt by the scars of the past
The world’s children are our children, together at last.
So kill them with kindness, and we’ll see millions more
Joyful, lively dances on our bathroom floor.
©Hazel Hughes 2015
If you were moved by these words, please consider donating to the volunteer group ‘aid from the North West of England’, who are supporting a number of registered charities by sorting the huge number of donations which are coming in from generous folk across the region. This just giving page is specifically to raise funds to ship the items to where they are most needed.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this,