Malnourished Child. © Graham Smith

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Series: My Heroes and Portraits.
30cm x 40cm.
Oil on canvas.
Ref # 200655.
Completed October 2006.
Inspired by a friend's poem -

Black Boy

My child said “Mum just come and look
at the matchstick boy on the telly.”
I saw a small black boy, most painfully thin
Except of course for his belly.
A shapeless heap of rags close by
The reporter said was his mother,
Was clutching a bundle with a soundless cry,
The bundle was the black boy’s brother.
The reporter went on in factual terms
About the drought, and the plagues and death,
But once in a while you could hear the catch
In the voice, as it paused for breath.
And the small black boy unnaturally still
Just once heaved an odd little sigh.
He had never asked to be alive,
But I’m sure he didn’t wish to die.
He just sat still and his eyes looked old,
He’s never had much to make him smile,
Each day to him was meaningless,
Each night another long mile.
There was never enough to eat or drink,
And what there was he didn’t enjoy,
Just a nameless face in the march of time,
A sad and hungry little boy.
And I wonder what he thought of as he sat there,
So quiet and solemn and still;
I wonder if he dreamt of a time to come,
When he’d cured his people’s ill.
Then the camera faded out on the dismal scene
We were back with the reporter who said,
“We thought you should know – since this film was made,
that the little black boy is dead.”

© Pauline Sutton, Toodyay, Western Australia.


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© 2005 Graham Smith. All Rights Reserved.