On Grafton Street she was putting the finishing touches to her chalked coloured masterpiece.
She drew love hearts over all the i’s, pretty they were in their painful disguise.
I had seen her work before, on the ground of Henry Street, her colours then washed away by the man in the truck that sweeps.
I never made time to read them, you know how we are sometimes in a rush?
Last night, I stopped.
I stopped, instead of glancing at the wares inside the windows of the Brown Thomas shop.
I stopped, became moved without moving.
Together we read her chalked words.
Her message reminded us how we should never look down on others.
I asked her could I sit down?
Together we shared a space on the cold October ground.
Her Mother gifted her to the State when she was 12.
Pragmatically she explained, it was for her own safety’s sake.
I asked her was she not fostered?
Shaking her head she told me how her Mam still had rights at the time.
Voluntarily she entrusted her into the arms of the state,
with a promise and a hope to take back home some day.
‘Where did you grow up?’ I asked her.
It turned out we we both grew up in Tallaght.
Looking at her face, I felt I could have known her Mother.
She explained that she grew up in Jobstown, I said ‘so did I’.
She looked back at me with shock in her eyes.
She calls herself April.
She is 18 and a half years old.
She grew up running away from various Care Homes, she didn’t like the hostels, she said ‘it’s not safe to sleep on the street.’
‘I have a tent, another couple stay there too, no one comes near us.’ She assured me it was somewhere safe to rest her pretty red head.
She has somewhere to have a shower every day at nine.
She goes to Art classes in a homeless project, to pass away the time.
More than anything she just wants a real home, so she can go back to school.
This young girl has had it hard, but she is nobody’s fool.
She is waiting for aftercare, the social worker closed her case.
Eighteen years old, no longer a care for the State.
April wants to go to Trinity, she reads a lot.
To study history, even be an archaeologist some day.
I told her she was too beautiful for the streets, she said ‘ah, thanks, thanks a lot.’ She really was ever so sweet.
April grew up across the river from where I lived.
The river being a trickle that divides a multitude of lives.
I am sorry for you, I said.
I don’t feel sorry for you.
I am just sorry you have to live this life.
We hugged, longer than we needed to.
April being no fool, is burdened by circumstances.
She is just a young girl who deserves the right to go back to school.
I asked April was it okay to write about her, she said it was okay. If you are reading this, stay safe.
You will go to Trinity some day.