Smile for a sack of rice

they know exactly why they are smiling
why I was arriving at 10.30 in the morning
why they had to put on pants

and shoes
eldest sister
points

her little brother
to the camera light
smile for a sack of rice

starving
mamma sold their blanket
smile for a sack of rice

“i know there is no dignity in it”
i had said
“i will try not to take your dignity”

i had said
“by photographing your suffering”
i had said

yet i am delighted when a duck
crosses into the camera frame
i am disappointed the kids aren’t ready

duck on a dirt floor kitchen
that will get sponsors
i think

so dignified
trying to halt myself
from disappearing into every

well-meaning
well-marketed
NGO

ducks on dirt floors get sponsors
will you smile for a sack of rice?
or keep your dignity?

© 2015 Melinda Irvine

Comments

One comment on “Smile for a sack of rice”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s