The Orphanage

The corrugated ceilings refracted stark white light.

Military rows of cots held wane children

with cold feet and hearts set hard against rebuke.

Starched adults bellowed commands

and children respond with regimental precision.

Bells orchestrated sleep and meals

of porridge, potatoes and stew.

One grim face reflected another

and thus they lined up for their weekly bath.

Never alone, and always lonely.

Now middle aged, middle class teachers

lunch on pumpkin soup and quiche.

They stroll to air-conditioned conference rooms.

and sit assuredly in padded chairs.

They are coaxed to negotiate, appraise and develop.

The walls are now tangerine and sunset

and wooden venetians filter in the sunlight.

But, for all the carpeted and muted lighting,

I can still hear the sobs

of children crying themselves to sleep.


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