V Poem

Steve has been working on a number of poems to shadow Child I, for performances and school visits. Here is his poem portrait of the indefatigable V, who claims to be “almost 16”:




V walking in tight little circles,

muttering to herself, fists raised

like she’s going to do six rounds in a boxing ring

or run a race and go for gold.

V’s socks covered in dirt,

holes in the heels from stomping round.

V howling like a wolf, trumpeting like an elephant,

cackling like a hyena, hissing like a cat.

V rushing up to the Guard, facing the Guard,

hands on hips, jutting her chin at his face,

jabbing her finger. “He. Stole. My. Shoes!”

V scratching at him, leaping at him like a lion.

The Guard calling her wild, wrestling her,

but V clinging like a monkey,

getting her teeth into him, vicious.

The other Guards reaching for their clubs.


But V is far beyond fear.

She lived in a village visited by violence,

devastated by war. The family she loved

was bombed and evacuated.

V fled with her brother on a voyage across the sea.

The overcrowded vessel sank,

and V’s brother drowned.

Now she is on her own, she has nothing left to fear.


But the Guards call V a liar.

They say her version of events

is well-versed, but unverifiable.

Even so, they claim they

stole her shoes to keep her safe,

to stop her wandering into a place of danger.

V is vulnerable. V is a victim.

She is off the map.

Now V’s livid,

cursing beneath her breath,

spitting venom with a vengeance,

erupting like a volcano.

V versus the world. All in vain.


“I know!” I say. “Let’s play a game!”

I lead her to a crooked table football by the toilet block.

And here’s V, venting her rage against the spinning players

like her life depends on it,

demolishing me, seven goals to nil.

V skipping and whooping,

pumping and yelling, “Champ-i-on!”

V the invincible, and most invincible

of all when she’s all pumped up

and she is all pumped up right now.

V is vexed.


A charity drop causes a mad scrum for shoes.

Big men who live in the camp push and shove to the front.

V ducks between their legs. Fast,

digging her elbows against men twice as big,

emerging victorious,

clutching a pair of not-too-scrubby Nikes.

“Hah ha!” Leaping up and down. “Mine!”

Gazing at the trainers like treasure.

“Mine.” Bouncing on air.

“I am the Queen of the jungle!” she declares.


Tonight, V will walk out of the Camp in her brand new Nikes.

Tomorrow, the Guards will find her, drag her back

and confiscate the Nikes.

V, never giving in.