Summer of ’85.
Middlefield.
A home meant for people in poor mental health.
I called it an institution,
somewhere to put the unwanted.
Hide the embarrassment.
“There is no place in polite company
for people such as these,”
so spoke the message of the day.

Disabled,
epileptic,
autistic,
downs.
Spelled dead to society
along with unmarried mothers,
labelled insane,
then shut away,
their children
torn from the breast.
Unruly youngsters,
uncontrollable,
removed from circulation.

I remember one such a man,
Albert, we’ll call him,
because after all this time
I’m not even sure of his name.
Incarcerated at twelve,
unfathomable,
too difficult to handle.
Then, seventy five,
a gentle old soul.
He spoke about cricket
and the big wartime bands.
Always a cheery smile,
a precursor to the request.
Could I check if there was a letter?
One from his mum and dad.
“It’s been such a long time,” he sighed.
There was never any mail.

An uncaring world, back then;
maybe it is now.
I’m ashamed I do not remember his name
and I always wonder
if his family ever did.

 

© Antony N Britt

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