Oh World: A Mother's Prayer

by Seudonimo Voldeminty

Victoria.
1820s.

A shadowed woman, stooped, care-worn,
Leans against the cold damp stone
Of the entrance to a dark, dank road.
Her flesh stretched weakly over bone.

In her spindly arms, a bundle of cloths
Emits a wavering, pitiful cry.
A baby there, red and small,
Holds the rapture of her closing eyes.

Her heaving breath, her limp aching limbs
Cry out for rest and peace;
Yet here she cradles him, loves him, whispers,
Hopes his heartbeat will not cease.

Then with a gasp she totters over
Collapsing against the slimy wall
She sits, a huddle, clutching her bundle
Like it is a coin; it is her all.

She shivers and cries and wishes the dark
Would not keep pressing in.
It takes the light, it shrivels her up
She cries, and cries again.

Until the baby screams aloud—
Hunger wailing in the sound—
But she knows she cannot feed him,
Her body buckled to the ground.

She murmurs and her tears fall hot.
If you heard the pleadings of her heart
You would know her sorry lot
But more, the pang of a mother:

oh world will you welcome
my baby to your arms
or will you shun him
as you have shunned me ?

oh world will you take him
this child
this babe
this orphan
or will you spit him out
violently
onto the streets ?

oh world oh world
i beg of you
please !

let mercy—just once !—
take hold of your heart
and spare him
the troubles
i have had to bear
oh world oh world
please ,
give him a chance

A chance to live
a chance to know
a chance to do and be

oh world
you shall not deal him the same
hand of life you have dealt unto me

Only this one single thing I ask !
After years of slavery—
bound by body ,
living by pain—:

Let him alone!

leave him to live
it's all i want
it's what i need

oh world
please

just give me one thing
just grant me this wish:

leave him

and i
shall come down in peace

Oh world will you
stop .
and consider
this—
a child
a soul!
born in such filth !

oh world oh world
by their wealth . . .

may your gentlemen
in top hats and coattails
be shamed !

may your ladies in their finery
their silk and their lace

shriek—dismayed
at this terrible Fate—
to live and die in such Hell !

Oh world Oh world
and let the children cry, aloud !
in the lanes and in the streets
in the country, in the town :

'This child—
this son—
of base dirt and darkness
and vulgar slum—
this child
was born to rise !
To rise above the world,
to conquer it . . .
and yes,
this child
was born to live!'

Oh world . . . I will not let you win.

So saying, she slumps; her hand clutching tight
The babe to her breast in the gathering night.
And her worn calm face is shown to the day
When they find her—her soul free-flown away.


Note: My original thought in writing this was a backstory for Oliver Twist's mother, but it ended up just being this—not based specifically on Dickens' character, but easy to imagine during that time and setting. Oh, and also slightly inspired by (and dramatised with ideas from) Emily Bronte's "The Prisoner". Written in 2016, probably, but I positively toiled over this and it's been sitting around for ages.


CALLING FOR FEEDBACK :)

This was quite experimental for me. If anyone's up to review, feel free to let me know

- Was the timing right for the feelings and such? Boring? Hard to read?
- My main aim was not rhythm; however, did it 'flow' at all?
- Is the layout all right?
- Punctuation: a hindrance or help? And what about those strange spaces in punctuating places … hate/love 'em?
- Did it feel like it needed anything else?