Wednesday, 30 November 2016


“Tolerance, compromise, understanding, acceptance, patience - I want those all to be very sharp tools in my shed.” - CeeLo Green 

The mid-week motif for Poets United this week is “Social Stigma”. In western societies around the world we take pride in touting our tolerance and acceptance of diversity, we quote our laws that protect minorities, and are ready to lecture anyone who dares question our broad-mindedness and understanding of all of those who don’t conform to society’s “norms”.

Yet it is in enlightened countries such as these that we see racial discrimination still raging; we still see ethnic minorities failing to advance socially and professionally because of prejudice against them; we still see inequalities based on gender and patriarchal role models; we still see people victimised, bashed or killed because of their sexuality; we still see people ostracised because of their age; we still see stigmatisation of teenage mothers; we still see demonisation of the unemployed and the homeless; we still see the isolation and marginalisation of the mentally ill…

My poem is based on a true story that affected a family acquaintance. The young woman central to that story made what I believe to have been the right decision. However, it is not explicitly stated in my poem. There are so many young women who find themselves in a miserable quandary and the decisions that they make (or that they have made for them), in so many cases are dictated by the threat of social stigma… Yes, even nowadays in enlightened societies like ours!

The Quandary

She cried her eyes out when he left
She knew she’d never see him again;
And now alone, with all her dreams
Turned into nightmares.

She had believed him and she had loved,
She gave him all and he took even more.
And now alone, whom could she turn to,
But her family?

She had confessed all and she had trusted them;
She hoped that they would give their love, support…
And all she heard were screams and shouts,
Cries, threats and accusations.

She put her hands on her belly and she felt –
She tried to feel what she knew was growing there.
And she sensed that the new life that stirred within
Would bring her turmoil.

She heard her father shout: “Have an abortion!”
She heard her mother cry: “Have it and give it for adoption!”
Within her belly “it” stirred and said:
“Keep me, love me, raise me…”

Small town morality would stigmatise
The tell-tale swelling in her belly;
Her child, if born, would have its own battles to fight,
Wars to lose, perhaps…

She knew what shame, disgrace and isolation
She would have face if she allowed nature take its course;
And then how could she live,
With that blemish of: “Single, underage mother”?

Whom would she listen to?
Who gave the wisest counsel?
Who spoke from the heart?
Whom could she in her green years put her trust in?


  1. The more we think we're moving ahead, it seems like we carry the worst along with us, refusing to open our hearts and minds. Thanks for sharing.

  2. '...underage mother' strikes for me most...formative years specially for a girl child must never be squandered away...

  3. So much at issue buzzes beneath the surface of your poem, including the permission for a man to make the choices which leaves a woman in this quandary. What of the stigma there? Excellent, excellent!

  4. Oh this is so well done, Nicholas! So true to life. So many girls in this situation with no loving support, which makes it even harder. Poor girl. I hope she is doing better now, and is at ease in her heart with whatever decision was right for her.

  5. How moving this poem is an sadly one that is repeated so many times. If only her parants could the new baby as their grandchild to welcome and nurture rather than be ashamed at this most natural occurence. Love and forgivenes is what is needed to accept what has happened to to move on as a family. So well written Nicholas.

  6. Oh this brought tears to my eyes.. beautiful and poignant both at same time.

  7. Sensitively and compassionately written - i hope she listened to her voice.. i sense she is both strong and wise.. and able to rise above the labels thrown at her so cruelly

  8. I find myself hoping that she listened to the baby saying "keep me, love me, raise me." She sounds like an intelligent young woman, and I am sure that she put a lot of thought into her decision. Nicholas, could you tell us what her decision was? I would really like to know.

    1. Hello, Mary. The young woman that was our family's acquaintance was saved by her maternal grandmother. A plucky lady who read the riot act to the parents. The grandmother was the one who provided the solution, which was LOVE. She took the young woman under her care and banished the parents from seeing her for a while. She listened and she cared and she supported and allowed the young woman to make up her own mind. The baby was kept, the parents came around and became doting grandparents and the young woman went to university, while her grandmother (especially) helped baby sit. The woman met her future husband at University, they married and she had another two children. Her husband loved all three of their children equally. The baby became a doctor. He is currently 30 years old and doing fantastic work with Aboriginal health in Central Australia. It was a difficult choice, but the young mother believed that was the right one. Seeing the doctor and the work he does nowadays makes me admire her for her choice.

    2. Nicholas, thank you for answering my question. I am glad that the young woman found someone who loved her and was willing to support her and her baby through this difficult time. I am not in favor of abortion really (though I want women to have control over their OWN bodies) if there is any alternative at all; and in this case there definitely was one. I am sure she thought back many times later with thankfulness for her grandmother. I am sure her parents, as time went on, felt the same way. She definitely made the right choice!! What a wonderful poem. It moved me.

    3. (And thanks for explaining...on my blog...reminding me to come back & check.)

  9. I have always been so thankful that I was never in that situation,. I have known many who were, and whatever decision is made, it is not an easy path.