© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2016 The Blackened Billy verse competition, Tamworth, NSW.

Do I see my own reflection
in a movement or a smile,
do I dare to ask for circumstance of birth
to again receive rejection
through the facts of the denial
while I question if the endless search has worth?

I have had the same reaction
in a thousand varied ways
as I’ve scanned the unknown faces in the crowd,
never gaining satisfaction
from repeated interplays
as each linking possibility was scoured.

And although there’s celebration
that we’ve passed the stigma now
(persecution of the girls whose babes were born
in an era of negation
where, without a wedding vow,
they were sacrificed to lash of public scorn)…

…yet, I almost envy others
who have birthed in later years
since society took on a humane view
that decrees, unmarried mothers
are not victimised to tears
and not forced to face the torment I’ve been through.

Oh, the bond of love had woken,
though I’d barely had a sight
of your tiny hands and precious little face.
I just felt my heart was broken
and I cried all through the night
left alone in aftermath of my ‘disgrace’.

I was forced to leave without you
and the only proof of birth –
a certificate denoting, ‘…female child’.
That was all I knew about you;
all my pregnancy was worth
was a single sheet on which my name was filed.

And the silence lasted, ever,
while my heart was left to mourn
in an atmosphere of secrecy and pain.
It was agony to never
tell a soul that you’d been born
and to know I would not see my babe again.

Lines of love lie deep inside us,
underneath the masks we wear
infiltrating through the fabric of our life,
and our ‘guilts’ return to chide us
through the coal seam scores we bear –
so I took my darkness forth to role as wife.

And the times when I miscarried
were like punishments I owed
to the attitude of shame I’d come to learn,
while the loving man I married
saw his happiness erode
when he couldn’t nullify my inner yearn.


All my hopes have cast asunder
for my quest has been in vain.
I will never be a part of who you are
and I’m destined still to wonder,
as the welts of life ingrain –
did belief in my rejection leave a scar?

Did you think I’d just forget you,
did you think the choice was mine;
can a bloodline sever through a social wrong?
Darling, though I barely met you
in my heart our souls entwine
where all mother-daughter harmonies belong.

There I hold you and caress you;
there we share our special bond
in an inner world of dreams that’s just as real.
How I pray that God may bless you
and in realms that lie beyond,
may you know the depth of ‘mother-love’ I feel.

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