All day long we’ve walked,
my little boy so fretful,
turning in my arms to stare behind us,
back along that dusty road.
It’s as if he hears a distant sound,
he’s listening, it seems,
but much too young to know
the dreadful things we’ve heard.
Now it’s dark and, near the fire,
we women sit, children cradled on our knees,
wrapped against the cold.
But my child is wriggling, squirming to be free.
I rise and carry him beyond the light.
The desert night is freezing,
I draw my shawl across his head.
With small impatient fists he pushes it away
and turns his face up to the stars.
He is gazing, gazing…
and I watch –
see light reflected in his eyes.
When he turns back to look at me,
it is from somewhere far away.
Jo Macdonald (1950- ), Southwell, Flight into Egypt