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Doroti Polgar

“Tell me this: when did you start seeing the world differently?”

“When we started painting happiness onto children’s hospital walls,
creating our own language before you could talk.
When the waves buried our names beneath the sand.
When we slept in waiting rooms, cannula in your hand.
When I translated your hospital appointments.
When they reminded me of those times.
When I unwrapped a penguin teddy on your PICU bedside.
When we kept a caterpillar in a shoebox until it learned to fly.
When we realised we’ve never seen our dad cry.
When we learnt not everyone’s home is a plane journey away.
When our parents watched armed police close streets from our bedroom windows
on Saturday.
When we met the family of the one who saved your life.
When they took us through photos of his life.
When people donated to save up for our trip down under.
When we witnessed why primary school taught us Childline’s number.
When she brought me a necklace for taking the knife from her son’s mind.
When the consultant who welcomed us into this country retired.
When we signed to a deaf child and he smiled back.
When we found out not everyone’s mum loves their dad.
When a journalist broke a promise as you were interviewed live.
When I drove for the first time, singing to road signs.
When we found out about a friend’s death from the local news.
When you told me we’d have made a good couple.
When I agreed.
When we realised party politics doesn’t care about us.
When our grandma took us to where she grew up.
When we signed Santa on Christmas packages to keep you believing.
When I tried to remember his laugh more than his leaving.
When they locked our confidence inside school lockers, running away with the code.
When mum told us her parents worked overtime to buy her a winter coat.
When we never had an answer each time she asked how we got those bruises.
When our dad told us one day we’ll appreciate classical music.
When I read Dandelion Wine and it reminded me of you.
When I read Dandelion Wine and it reminded me of myself.
When a poem I shared reminded a stranger of themself.
When I found an orchestra inside my earphones one night.
When we realised our dad was right.
When I plaited an eight-year-old’s hair after her mother died.
When I held two mothers’ nine-week-old for the first time.
When her tiny fingers grabbed onto strands of my hair.
When I made a wish for her world to be a little more fair.
When they asked me how I’m always smiling.
When we answered that today is a rare thing.
When we started exchanging sleep for 3am questions.
When we started thanking our teachers after every lesson.
When we found there is happiness between every line break,

breaking into the world differently.
When you asked me when did I start seeing the world differently.
When I had to think about it.
When I told you that I’m happy not despite but because of it all.
When the waves whispered our names, our stories and their breaks back onto
the shore.
When you told me no one has made you see it like this before.”