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The Chest of Drawers was written by Julie Nielsen, a Danish global nomad, while she was attending Southbank International School in London. It is a beautiful evocation of many of the more challenging facets of the global nomad experience, among them feeling powerless in the face of life-changing decisions being made by others and the enormous and multi-faceted sense of loss that can be engendered by an international move. 

Julie’s poem also demonstrates the power of poetry as a mechanism for expressing what might otherwise stay bottled inside. Moreover, it suggests that expressing emotion in such a constructive way can itself be a transformative experience and a reclaiming of personal power.


The Chest of Drawers

You are beautiful,
that is what they say.
They admire all the carvings,
made by the craftsmen
who created me. 
They worship the bumps and the bruises
made by my many years of standing,
and all the moves. 

Once again the time has come.
I was wondering when it would;
it has been much longer
than normal.

I see their legs move
towards the door,
listening to their shoes
lightly hitting the kitchen floor,
while they discuss
where it would be best
to slot me in.                                                                                               

Only once in a while
does the reality hit me,
but when it comes it is powerful.
It rushes on me, like a tidal wave,
washing away every grain of hope. 
I realize how long it took
for the sun to darken the wallpaper
around my shadow, l
eaving a perfect silhouette,
and for the carpet fibres to mould
around my feet.

The beautiful paper
which lines my drawers,
and has put a smile on my face
when I was down,
will be thrown away and replaced.
Will I like the new?

What will take my place,
cover my silhouette,
and fill the holes I leave?

—Julie Nielsen
Danish global nomad, 16 years old