Poem: ‘A Photo’

In October 2020 to mark the International Day to End Poverty, people with lived experience of poverty across the country shared their original poetry. In this video, Karla McDonagh reads her poem ‘A Photo’, which is about ‘letterbox‘ correspondence with children who have been adopted.

A Photo

Ok so it resulted in a complaint

Looking through torture has made my soul feel faint

But I am not giving up, no I ain’t.


It helps to write a simple poem from my heart

It allows my emotions to unscramble

And that’s when my heart starts.


It opens me up like a book

And I share it so all can take a look.


On a serious note why do I have no luck?

All that meant so much to me, with a simple agreement was took

Yes I lie awake at night breaking my heart

So much as see a child, my heart says “oh fuck”.


I’ve seriously never felt pain like this

I never knew how strong it would feel to miss

To wrap my arms around you and place on your forehead a loving kiss

When the pain squeezes my heart, all I can do is dream and wish.


Come on is there a God up there?


As if there was, why is it only a picture on which I stare

Seriously my life has transformed, how can we all

Carry on being punished

This is really no longer fair.


I don’t get to watch my Eloise start school

A memory so important

A memory I am not good enough to share.


I wonder how cute you both look

Like in your school uniforms

Only the uniforms you wear.


Do they walk you to school proud and holding your hand?

Would they feel the in-depth emotion I would feel if

I was in their place?

If they did, I would understand.


For Heaven’s sake

Small things like making sure you’re within the garden gate

Just making sure you’re happy, loved and safe

Handing your tea on your dinner plate,

On your birthday giving you the cake

I still bake.


Just to see a photo, my soul will enlighten and wake.


Come on God give us a break.


What has life become? You will take anything

Offered to you, just to know how happy and settled you both are.

Making a guess on if you live in Scotland or further away

I just want to know how far.


Have you ever fallen yet and you want me there

To pick you up and mend you,

And then you see a face that is not mine

And feel so blue.


Am I ever in your dreams?

I dream of you both daily and will do until I

Next see you, so it seems.


It is bad to say how much I truly need you both

Is it selfish to want to hold you both so close?

How are you both supposed to know I love you the most?


You see this is why I am tired! Do you see

How many questions I need answered?

This is becoming a part of my life

Dreaming of the day we re-unite.

 – Karla McDonagh, 02/09/2016, 00:30

With thanks to Dan Farley for video editing on behalf of the APLE Collective and to On Road Media and the London Challenge Poverty Week for supporting the event. The music in the video was composed and performed by Jason French.