Issue 102, Spring 1987
Gud, som haver barnen kär,
Se till mig som liten är.
Vart jag mig i världen vänder
Star min lycka i Guds händer.
—Old Swedish children’s prayer
Down the long curving walk you trudge to the street,
Stoop-shouldered in defeat, a cardboard suitcase
In each hand. Gerda, don’t leave! the child cries
From the porch, waving and weeping; her stony mother
Speaks again of the raise in salary
Denied. Gerda demands ten dollars more
Than the twenty-five a month she has been paid
To sew, cook, keep house, dress and undress the child,
Bathe the child with the rough scaly hands
she cleans in Clorox; sing to the child
In Swedish, teach her to pray, to count her toes
In Swedish. Forty years on, the child still knows how.
Is a great hit with children under seven, in Sweden,
Singing a folk song, praying, counting toes.
For twenty-five dollars a month in 1933
Gerda makes for the child her favorite, fattigmand,
A mix of flour, milk and eggs you cut in strips,
Then fry in fat, then dust with sugar
(the child helps Gerda cook so she knows that).
In Stockholm the child will inquire of fattigmand,
But like lost Gerda it does not exist.