The following poem was written by a BeREAL* participant in New Orleans―a single mother who is now attending college. We think this young woman’s words speak for themselves.
Close your eyes when you stop to talk to me.
And as you do just imagine the pretty things.
Because as you do,
I’m wishing I could do the same
But as you know of the horror that roams my brain.
I stand looking at you trying to think of pretty thoughts
while in my mind I remember only tears
and battles I have lost.
Close your eyes when you go to talk to the next child
And as you start to say
how things have been so well
Take into consideration that maybe to them
Life has been hell.
While that child tries to compliment you
After they have been held down
So don’t be confused if that smile quickly turns to a frown.
Close your eyes when you go to help the next child in need
Because a simple kind heart
Is maybe something the child never seen.
Only mean words that scared the child’s soul
and lonely nights that kept them hungry and cold.
And for every adult in this room
Take the time to
Close your eyes
And when you do
Let the many faces of children you have helped reappear.
Because even though the child is far away
Your love you gave is still near.
And since you have given love to that child
They no longer worry of cold nights,
or lost battles,
or the mean words people say
because of the love you gave it stays,
and scares those things away.
And for that I and all of the other children say thank you.
* BeREAL, a pilot program in New Orleans, provides transition services for youth ages 13-25 aging out of Louisiana’s foster care system, through training, support, and mentoring programs.