Participants in the Stories of Care creative writing project responded creatively to stories about 18th and 19th century Foundling Hospital pupils. Here is BCT’s creative writing inspired by the story of Mercy Draper and his own experiences. Click on the dropdowns below to see the poems. You can watch videos of BCT performing his pieces at the showcase below.
This is a story about Mercy Draper, a foundling child who developed blindness at a young age and was assisted through the Hospital to have a successful singing career. The words used show an interpretation of her objectification.
Pitter patter scratches at the window.
A draft of air shrinks my lungs.
Cold water meets my lips from a glass, half empty.
A loud rap at the door, but the handle was unturned.
How long have they stared?
Goosebumps erupt on my skin.
Their glares penetrate my chest.
Whispers flee down the hall,
followed by the floorboards cry under heavy march.
“Draper,” a man commands. The switch flicks,
warmth radiates, the stench of tobacco and sulphur.
“Come.” Calloused palms clasp my wrists,
Expelled from the bed into the darkness.
My feet stumble through mud, guided by leather boots.
The raindrops fall.
Their song resonates through echoes of the chapel,
Me, their toy box.
The hum of hymns, hushes of hope.
People parrot prayers, on top of steps, they stare.
My smile melts, my melody muted.
The organ continues the heart of the church.
This begins my descent.
My lips locked, my future flushed.
The raindrops fall.
Growing up as a mixed-race person in the UK, some conversations I’ve had with others have made me feel alien and out of place. This is a small piece about that feeling.
He’s not the same, he’s different.
He’s not the same, he’s worse.
His skin doesn’t match our pigment.
His jaundiced skin is cursed.
Where are you from? Where am I from?
Where are you from from? Why are you different?
Your skin is wrong, so why are you here?
Your English is so good, but you’re not English.
Sorry? Sorry. Sorry I have offended you with the colour of my skin.
To share a world, a country, a city and a conversation with you.
Our blood is red, our bones are white.
Yet you’d rather me dead or gone by night.
I should return to another world, country, city where I was never born.
I should return to a conversation in a language I don’t speak.
Even when I return to where I’m from from.
They mistake me for you.