by Tina Morris, Bilsborough
To feel loved
If only for a moment,
Other times raped
But the young girls
In their frail cotton dresses and clogs
Were deemed too weak of spirit or mind
To keep themselves safe in a wicked world
And, ripe with babies,
Were removed from society
Into an Institution for Mental Defectives.
The babies were wrenched away for adoption at birth
And the girls, grieving and howling,
Put to work in the laundry or scrubbing floors.
Young girls imprisoned there
With mad women and sad women
And women turned beastly through anger.
The world revolved without them
With no contact or news of family.
The air vibrated
With the silent wailing of loss.
Nothing to mark their place on the earth
Except nameless orphans growing in the anguish
Of having been given away.
So many years of life with nothing to celebrate
Except birth names marked in scratchy writing
In the Parish Registers…
…names acknowledging their admittance
To the ‘Inebriate Women’s Reformatory’
…and entries in a different hand
Recording their death in the institution ledger
Fifty or more years later.
Nobody will ever release the girls
From the never-ending pain.
No Enquiry will find them innocent.
And no-one will even remember them.
Their lives were one long rape
And their single moment of feeling loved
Was simply that…