My first meal in the Children’s Home
Sitting here all alone. They said this is my room.
A bright and light and airy room. Just me and my black bag. Black despair and one bin bag alone in my new room.
Alone but still I’m scared.
Scared of the noises from downstairs. Downstairs, they showed me the downstairs. They showed where I eat, work and play.
I’ve got to eat with strangers now. Not like it was at home.
Strangers, young and old, looking, wondering, whispering. Whispering about the new girl, that worried, thin girl.
Thin, that’s me. Meals made me thin, that and Mr Nut Job.
The gong! A thin, tinny sound, not imperious, but still summoning me.
You must not ignore the gong. The lady told me that.
The lady, tall and thin. She had seen it all before. The fear, the marks, the haunted eyes.
Get up Ella. Brush your hair, dry your eyes. Look hard and tough, not scared.
Scared? You bet I am. Down the stairs. One flight, two flights. Nearly there.
That’s the door at the foot of the stairs. Noise and smells are pouring out.
I stand by that open door. Nothing changes, not even a glance. Am I invisible?
Invisible? Forgotten? No spare places that I can see. Except for one. That girl alone.
That girl alone, she sees me now. I know her. The girl next door. Don’t know her name, that girl. Does she know me? She waves and points.
Points at the empty chair beside her. Look casual Ella, I tell myself. “You must be Ella? My name’s Eve.”
Editor’s Note - Of all the poems that Ella has contributed to this anthology this remains my favourite. The raw emotion and the way that Ella has written the poem in the same way as she talks - with short well-crafted sentences - makes this poem the "essence of Ella".