Illustration: Rame Abdulkader.
Reading Time: < 1 minute

I was walking the streets one cloudy autumn day
The breeze was cool, and danced with delight
When from a shadowy alcove I heard a voice say
Spare some change, sir, so I may eat tonight?

Against a weathered brick wall a woman lay
And though hunger and weariness marked her face
She was barely a woman, I thought with dismay
I asked how one so young could fall so far from grace

I loved once, she began, and he was my joy
It was to be forever, that was our vow
To fate, we are all but a child’s toy
For he died in the trenches; I know not how

Under an old blanket I notice a child’s curious stare
The woman pulls the child close, holding her tight
All that remains of those times is my daughter, my shield against despair
Together, I think we may be alright

After I left I found myself thinking of the woman’s sad tale
So I spared them some change, and began to visit every few days without fail.
Never give beggars anything, I used to say
Until I saw the little girl in her school uniform one day

—Alex Tyrie, second-year history, with thanks to Katie Dunn.