They Are Like Angels, These Ones

By Joergen Ostensen

5.4.19

I wrote this poem after volunteering at an orphanage in the township of Alexandra, which is outside of Johannesburg. As I was leaving, one of the little girls would not let go of my hand. The woman who runs the place helped me say goodbye to the child and, as she did, she said to me, "They are like angels, these ones."


They are like angels, these ones

She says

With starlight in their eyes

Running, swinging, kicking

Their deflated rubber ball.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Sitting with their backs to the wall

In the shadows

Out from under the never ending sun.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Smiling as he is lifted into the air

His off brand superman cape

Catching the wind.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Digging for worms in the dirt

Among the rocks, pumpkins

And forgotten potatoes.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

As they chatter away in their languages

And their stuffed guerrillas

Look on with big, sweet, round eyes.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

With dogs that say woof

On their t-shirts

And beads in their braided hair.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Sharing water with each other

Pouring it out into the bottle cap

From the top of the sun scaled play-set.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Here inside the walls, sharing life together

Here on the other side

Of the trash, the rubble, the pain.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

So young they can fly

In their dreams

Like the bird on her blue shirt.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

As they sing together

While eating from the plastic plates

Cross legged on the floor.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

Little tiny angels

Forgotten angels

As the same song keeps on playing.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

With starlight in their eyes

They are like angels, these ones

Whose parents are the ones in heaven.


They are like angels, these ones

She says

As her fingers will not let go of mine

They are like angels, these ones

With starlight in their eyes.