Not a Care in the World 

 

I worry a lot.

In school we watched a programme

about the Great Plague,

and for the next few nights all I could see

were bodies, contorted and diseased

at the foot of my bed.

 

We talked about the Second World War,

and I worried about what I would do

if there was a war now – whether I’d be dead

and whether or not my family would survive.

I asked my mum if she was ever alive

during a war, and she said yes, of course –

there are wars going on

across the world all the time.

But what about in England? I asked.

She said she remembered the Falklands War,

which wasn’t in England but did

involve our army.

 

I worry a lot.

I worry about being poor

and about famine.

On television I saw an advert asking people

to donate money to another country

where there wasn’t enough to eat.

The people in the advert were covered in sheets.

They looked like barren winter trees.

I wondered whether my mum would be able to love me

if I looked like that, and whether

I’d be able to love her

if she did.

I’ve started hoarding cans of food under my bed

in case there’s a famine in London.

 

I worry a lot.

And it isn’t just big things I worry about either;

I also worry about lots and lots and lots and lots

of little things.

We had some maths homework

I didn’t understand, which I worried about

until I cried over the breakfast table.

And last week I tried to write a book review

on a book I haven’t even read.

I’m worried that my teacher will find out

and make me read the whole thing,

maybe even twice.

And whenever we have to get into pairs

to go on a school trip

I worry myself sick

about who I’m going to stand next to.

Sam likes girls now

so he always wants to hold a girl’s hand.

James and Alex usually stand together.

 

So now we’re on a trip and my heart

is a hammer in my chest. We’re standing

in the line, two abreast –

I’ve been worrying about this for weeks.

The birds of anxiety peck at me with their beaks

as two old ladies pass us on the street,

eyeing us as though

they want to pinch our cheeks.

Then one turns to the other and says

 

“It must be great being a kid, mustn’t it?

Not a care in the world.”

(published in I Don't Like Poetry)

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