POEM: Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

Poem written by Marie D'Arcy Murray Co-founder of 'Borderline, The Association for Parents of persons with mild mental handicap.

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Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

I brought you home full of joy

How perfect you looked, all four pounds of you

You could not see; what a heartache.

Then hope as you turned your head.

Light had entered your eyes after what seemed an eternity.

Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

You did not talk, stand or smile.

I could not understand!!

When that first sound came, I held my breath

When you stood up, eyes filled with tears,

‘Would you do it again?’

Time was my only answer–you did.

That beautiful light which had entered your eyes did not enter your brain.

You were mildly mentally handicapped.

Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

You looked so perfect, yet your life is a world of hell,

A world which does not recognise your difference,

A world where there is no help for you,

A world where fingers point to your head,

A world where nothing awaits you,

But the yawning of gates and injections.

Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

I try and place myself inside your world.

It is a world of being so near, yet so far.

In your world you climb ladders

which are pushed aside as you reach the top.

I hear myself say ‘Oh God! Let me out, I can’t live in this world.’

Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

You have no friends.

The one closest to you was taken.

You lash out at those you love.

Those who love you lash out at you.

No one knows the dreadful world you and all of us live in–

‘How badly off you are.’

You can be aggressive and frustrated.

Yet so simple and kind.

You don’t know how to hold a grudge.

You laugh at fun and fear.

Oh God! How will I leave you?

It tears my soul apart.

Others say ‘How badly off you are.’

Is there anyone to help give you a home of your own?

To give you a life of dignity?

Will there be someone to show you love and care?

Will you have someone with you

When you are in pain, to hold your hand?

When you have these, then

I can in time pass on happy

And can say the words:

‘You are taken care of, my dearest son.’

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