The Mosque Trip

I wish this poem wasn’t based on real events …

“Me mam and dad won’t let me go,”

was all the explanation he had given.

And Miss Davis had just nodded

and written his name, ‘Jamie Kelly’, on a list under four others.

“I really want to but …” he had tried to say,

but the way his teacher’s eyes stayed sad as she smiled

Left him unable to finish.

So there it was.

While the others got an afternoon away from school,

he would be put with the babies in Mrs Garth’s class.

It wasn’t even like he hadn’t been to the mosque before.

He knew better than to tell his dad

but after school last summer term,

he’d played keepie uppies with Tariq and his brother in the carpark.

And when it got dark they’d gone inside for food.

He’d had food at the gurdwara too with Jas one Saturday

and he hadn’t told his dad about that either.

Dad made jokes about Tariq’s mum

when they saw her in the market.

Loud enough for her to hear.

And the newspaper mum got on a Saturday

was full of stories telling you all the bad things

immigrants had done.

Jamie wondered why they never had stories

about good immigrants, like Jas and Tariq’s parents

and Dr Khan and the man who drove his school bus

and his great-grandad who had come from County Cork.

Maybe they printed those on a week day.

His dad had said, “I’m not racist,” and then spoilt it with a, “but.”

And his mum had said, “You can’t be too careful.”

Of what, he wasn’t sure.

Perhaps she was thinking of Meena.

Her family was foreign, and she was horrible.

At least she was now she wouldn’t go out with him.

But they really didn’t give many reasons, they just said no.

So he couldn’t go.

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