Her Roller Skates, Circa 1936

A turning point in the life of a child

Deborah Barchi
2 min readJun 13, 2021
Old Roller Skates image by Jim Heaphy/Wikimedia Commons

She was nine years old.
Skinny, dark haired, bright-eyed.

She loved her big family and good things to eat.
She loved speed. And her roller skates.

Whenever she could, she strapped them on
and headed for the steep hill into the city.

Her skate key hung from a string around her neck.
Her good luck charm, that would keep her safe.

Racing down the hill,
her long hair streaming behind,
nothing could stop her.

At the bottom of the hill, he did.

I told you, if I ever caught you skating down this hill,
I would take your skates away, girlie!”

“You could get yourself killed!” the policeman shouted.
She turned away, sobbing with loss and rage.

Back in the tenement, clean but cluttered ,
her mother was angry and slapped her.

But that did not sting.
What made her cry was the key that dragged
around her neck like a block of ice.

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Deborah Barchi

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.