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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)

TITLE: A Warning, A Wish And A Woe
By Mariane Holbrook


She lies in her crib through no fault of her own,
A girl of eight months, so they say.
No blanket or pillow to cuddle up to,
And this goes on day after day.

For she is an orphan with no one to care;
A nurse keeps her barely alive.
The porridge they give her is never enough;
I wonder how long she’ll survive.

The Yugoslav government feels it is best
For orphans to be left alone.
They frown upon friendships between children there;
No signs of affection are shown.

That baby who’s crying has boils everywhere.
Her diaper stays soiled all day.
She rarely is bathed and she wants to be fed;
I wish I could take her away.

The worst of it all are the “No Touching” signs.
On beds and on cribs everywhere.
But babies still cry and they reach out their arms
Hoping someone will show that they care.

By age three or four they have given up hope
And they stare from their beds into space.
When workers approach them to bring them some food,
They know there will be no embrace.

They never are touched and they never are hugged.
They all seem more sullen each day.
They never throw balls or run loose on the lawn;
They don’t know the meaning of “play.”

Some dear saints of God had adopted a girl
Who barely has lived to be three.
She soundlessly boarded the plane for New York;
A challenge she’ll be, they agree.

Too long she had lain in that urine-soaked bed.
Too long she had begged for a touch.
Too long she had cried for a tender embrace.
Was this child really asking too much?

Resisting their efforts to show her their love,
She sits by her window and stares.
She no longer wants to be hugged and caressed;
She knows now that nobody cares.

For thousands and thousands of children like this
The damage is already done.
They begged for so long for the touch of a hand,
Sought for love but they found there was none.

Psychiatrists say that a child without hugs
Is stunted for life as he cries.
Refusing all food, losing interest in life,
He grieves to the point where he dies.

The wildest of animals cuddle their young;
God willed that it always be so.
But innocent babies are shunned and ignored
Til they’re weary and let it all go.

To those who have hurt even one little child,
God’s Word is abundantly clear.
He will punish the guilty for what they have done;
‘Twill be certain and swift and severe.

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This article has been read 1012 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 08/12/10
The "No Touching" signs really broke my heart. It just makes you wonder how that kind of thinking can prevail in some places.

A very sad poem.

Charla Diehl 08/12/10
Pathetically sad that this is not fiction, but fact. Though the story behind this poem breaks my heart, you did a beautiful job with this piece.
Linda Payne08/16/10
Your words brought tears to my eyes. I worked with a little girl who had suffered this way.
Your feelings and message are powerful. Thank you.
Sandra Petersen 08/18/10
Your rhyme and rhythm was right on and your words which I have heard are very true were heart-breaking. A sobering entry.
Chely Roach08/18/10
Devastatingly beautiful...
Caitlyn Meissner08/18/10
Wow! That was really good. Thank you for writing about such an important subject.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/18/10
What a heartbreakingly beautiful poem! This arises such feelings of sympathy for these little ones, along with ire that people could be so heartless toward them. You presented a dismal situation with your excellently worded poem.
Margaret Kearley 08/18/10
Oh this is absolutely heart- breaking, made all the worse because it is true. A most incredible poem - wonderfully written.
Mona Purvis08/18/10
You know your work is good when writers comment with passion about the content more than the structure. This is just such a piece. What a job you have done, so on topic and so relative.
The writing is brilliant. A+ and EC deserving.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/18/10
Wow! This is so sad. I think it's even sadder that I am so naive. I can't even begin to imagine anything this horrific. Your poem will and should educate many. I had to stop while reading this to say a prayer for babies like this everywhere.
Carol Penhorwood 08/18/10
This was so, so difficult to read and it is absolutely heartbreaking. God protect and love those little ones! With tears running down my face, I agree this is EC material.
AnneRene' Capp08/18/10
Ohhhh and Ughhh. I am heaving my own weighted sigh of woe.

How horrendously wicked and cruel to the life and soul of the "untouched." Yes, sweet Lord Jesus, come.

This is powerfully unbearable, remarkably written.

Edy T Johnson 08/18/10
The way our youngest grandbaby clings to her mama (I've told her mama, too) is a testimony to Jesus' words about children: of such is the Kingdom of God. They already know how helpless we are to provide anything for ourselves.

We have missionaries from our church working with children around the world, in schools, campgrounds, and among street children. Every week meeting in prayer for them, I'm moved to tears realizing how big the task to reach every single little one, especially the homeless, actually is.

You've done such a good job crystalizing the need in your poem! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Margaret Kearley 08/19/10
Congratulations Marianne; I am so glad that this wonderful and heart-breaking poem was placed 1st. I was so touched by it last night that I forwarded it to my dear (Hospital Play Specialist) daughter who daily enriches suffering children's lives - may that work spread and grow.
Laury Hubrich 08/19/10
Oh man, this is so sad. Congratulations on your EC but now my stomach is twisted in knots. So very sad:(
AnneRene' Capp08/19/10
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S!
Saw Margaret's comment about forwarding it to her daughter who helps suffering children...how awesome!!!!
Mariane Holbrook 08/19/10
Some of you have asked if this is based on fact. Unfortunately, it is. And I've had to tone it down because the details are so terrible. I met one of these children when a neighbor adopted one from Yugoslavia. He was so emotionally stunted that he wouldn't let anyone come near him or touch him. At school he is a constant problem and our neighbors can't do anything to reach him, as hard as they've tried. He was in an orphanage until he was 6, never touched, never hugged or kissed and psychologists have told his new parents there is no way they can break through the barriers of his mind. I can't even let myself think of that baby standing in his crib begging and crying for someone to pick him up, to hold him for even a minute, but he was only touched when the orphanage staff changed his diaper or gave him some oatmeal. Can you imagine what he will be like at 25 or 30 - a misfit in society and likely always in trouble with the law. I don't want to be around when God's anger is let loose on those responsible for these tens of thousands of precious kids who were treated with even less kindness than dogs were treated. At least dogs are petted and hugged!
Debbie Roome 08/19/10
Congratulations, Mariane. This was so sad - especially as it's based on truth. Excellent writing!
Betty Castleberry08/19/10
Mariane, what a heartbreaking poem. It is something that is difficult to read, but we all need to be aware of. You did a great job conveying your message. Congratulations on your EC.
Helen Dowd08/19/10
Oh Mariane, I wish I had read this earlier, but our computers were out of commission. So sorry. This poem is well worthy of the credits it received. But why should that be a surprise? Your poetry is always first place in my estimation. This is such a sad, touching story-poem. It reaches to the very core of one's heart. I had heard before of that sort of treatment, but your poem brought it to such an emotional point. I can only imagine what a child like that is like. But we did have one foster boy, age 4 when we got him that had been dumped and neglected. It took a long while for him to communicate with the others. It was pathetic. God said that it is better to have a millstone tied to one's neck and to be dumped into the ocean than to neglect or hurt a child...That's not exactly what the Bible says, but something like that...Anyway, the judgment on those who treat children worse than animals that will be horrendous. Thanks for bringing to light this horror story. What a land of privilege we live in. Let's pray we won't "blow" it....God's blessings on you. Please excuse the long comment. Sorry it didn't come sooner...Helen
Mariane Holbrook 08/20/10
I received a lot of Emails about this poem and today my niece wrote: "My sister and brother-in-law adopted 2 brothers from an orphanage in eastern Europe back in the early 90's. They were
1 1/2 and 2 years old. They both graduated this year from high school. And, sadly, they have the emotional scars you describe. The toll on my sister's marriage is enormous. Also, I have had one of these adopted orphans in my classes at school. He is in 3rd grade this year, and is also terribly, terribly scarred for life emotionally. Thanks for bringing this to light."

This is a tragedy that just goes on and on and will for generations.
Nancy Sullivan 08/20/10
A heart wrenching word, but one that needs to be shared.
Your compassion for these little ones is evident. God bless the families who attempt to give these children what they desperately need. Well done.
Carole Robishaw 08/20/10
While reading this I could so easily see it. The picture you painted was so clear, and so very heartbreaking.
Linda Watson Owen08/22/10
Mariane, dear heart, this is my first chance to comment on this remarkably written piece. I know of no one who could tackle this subject in verse form as effectively as you. Your first place win in Master's is perfect placement. I've been painfully aware of this situation, but your skill in bringing it to agonizing life in front of our eyes has moved me to tears. Since having our own tiny Heaven sent grandsons now, coming face to face with this evil reality is personally even more horrendous. There are unspeakable evils in this world, and this one is certainly at the top. God's millstones are ready. Yes, 'Come, Lord Jesus'.
Sharon Eastman08/22/10
This is superb! What talent to show anguish like this! I cried throughout the whole poem.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/26/10
Such a terrible situation, but written with skill. Thanks for the prayer reminder.