Ward of the state

Born of rape, now a child of the state,
how will your profile be painted?

Who will take you, a babe tainted
by blood and history?

Doubly raped, your identity
scraped to save you. Yet truth will out

despite history flouted by good
intentions: doctors know, birth families, too.

But you, denied by mothers, bred by
fathers as slaves, your future manhandled,

maimed, foreordained. Child of rape,
ward of the state, who will take you?


Read this article.



22 thoughts on “Ward of the state

  1. I’m sitting here blinking back tears and the vague unsettled feeling in my stomach. What people do to people – and especially young children – makes me sad, angry, disgusted, and terribly afraid.

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  2. Your poem tears at the heart Susanne, it opens wounds, long healed but still tender. Stand witness, feel, even just a little, some of the horror and pain and fear of all concerned. Find compassion within ourselves. Sit with it. This is our work.


    • This is one of those stories that isn’t going to let go and nor should it. Yours and Osyth’s words are wise. Compassion and love are needed. How do we deliver it? I don’t know.


  3. I am too much of a chicken shit to read the article. I don’t want the images (verbal or visual) in my mind. Which is contrary to what I’m about to say: sometimes all we can do is bear witness. Today, I will read your poem and thank you for doing the heavy lifting for me.


    • As a result of the US election last year, I purchased a NY Times on-line subscription, the first newspaper I’ve read regularly in a couple of decades. It has been years since I watched TV news because I can’t bear to see the images served up at dinner time. But like many others, the train wreck (from my POV) south of the border has me riveted and so I read the news every day. Once in a while, a non-Trump headline catches my eye and this one did today. Glib phrases like “collateral damage” make me want to smack authorities. this is human carnage that will last generations and effect not just families but countries. It is pure evil.

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    • It is deeply disturbing but I think not shutting our eyes to it is important. Calling attention. And compassion. How can we turn away when we know?


    • It is terribly depressing and I don’t know what to do either. But I won’t turn away anymore. I’ve ignored the news for so long, trying not to see but this is part of the problem. I like the advice of Osyth and Pauline. Bear witness, Be compassionate. Offer help when you can.

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  4. What in the name of civilization are we doing? I watched an account of some of these girls in the BBC world service in my hotel room on Monday night. And then, quite shamefully, I slept. The difference is that I have choices. The difference is I wake refreshed. Helpless I am and yet I don’t believe in helplessness. Your poem should be compulsory reading for all of us standing by open mouthed and empty handed.


    • Its so hard to know where to start, what to say, what to do. How to help these women and children? Their voices have been stolen by the trauma and horror and shame and I guess one thing to do is listen to these accounts as told by brave families and reporters, and not turn away. Pay attention. Remember.


      • I am a huge believer in that. The act of signifying by listening and hearing. Gently. Never prejudging. Never assuming. Just being open. So often it is all one can do. It always feels futile but I do believe collectively if we stand still and put everything else aside in order to absorb a little of another’s horror that we become not a buffer, not a sponge but a strong silent compassionate witness able to cloak those that have suffered, will always suffer at some level in cleansing their personal enduring horror

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        • Well said Osyth – being ‘a strong silent compassionate witness able to cloak those that have suffered’ is our work – not just for the women in far away countries but also for those near by to us who are victims of equally horrendous abuse. ~ Pauline

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