Little Black Dress

There on the sluice bench like a fleet of small boats

Three babies lie in receivers without booties or coats

Their cots with no blankets are made of cold steel

Milk of human kindness denied them, on the premise they can’t feel.


That they came deceased already is a saving grace to me

For I’m more cut out for dereliction, than a duty masking tragedy.

And this strikes me as a paradox, for I became a nurse to save life

Yet am here given instruction regarding the aborted ‘foetus’

that cuts my nineteen year old heart like a knife.


Ergo: if vital signs of life are detectable, a twitch of fingers or trembling lip

Aid is to be withheld from each one of them as away from the mortal coil they slip.


En route to the incinerator the Porter calls by, and sans a prayer or a coat or a booty

He wheels the helpless charges away for whom I feel I have failed my duty.

And I tend the reluctant and the happily expectant mums, smiling equally at all till my gums ache

Having kissed three tiny button-nosed faces, for the love of God! and for mercy’s sake!


Unwanted, unplanned, unaffordable; an inconvenience a, mistake

I’ve heard all the euphemisms for who may’ve been little Kevin, little Dotty, Little Jake.

Catching the bus home I wonder, what depth their fear or distress

When the civilized world took care of them, so mum could ‘fit into her little black dress.’



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