Foundling

We found her wandering
hazel twig in one hand
feet bare and bleeding –

she wouldn’t speak
her lips were stained
with juice, her fingers, too –

lucky to be lost
in berry season
we said. Lucky.

She was afraid of us.
We offered bread. She ate it,
never looking away from us,
like a wren, like a dog
that had learned to be wary.

She never smiled.

We took her home with us,
to the fireside, and clothes
that were more than rags,
and bread to be kneaded
and floors to be swept
and butter to be churned

but still she held herself
like a deer, waiting to leap –
like a hare, quivering
in her stillness,
like a bird half-tamed.

For Laura at dVerse – a poem of finding – initially inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem Lost in the Forest.

18 thoughts on “Foundling

  1. Incredible, really one of your best. Feral children can be literary and poetic gold, and you really cashed in. I completely forgot about the “lost” poem, captivated by your touching tale. Your last stanza was killer,”Still She held herself like a deer, waiting to leap, like a hare quivering in her stillness, like a bird half-tamed”, Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful. I love this.

    This is my favorite section:

    “hazel twig in one hand
    feet bare and bleeding –

    she wouldn’t speak
    her lips were stained
    with juice, her fingers, too –

    lucky to be lost
    in berry season”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah, such a poignant story. Knowing you work(ed) with troubled kids, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a composite of traumatized “feral” kids you’ve worked with. The hypervigilance so often never goes away. Taking her in and giving her a safe space and a sense of normalcy can work miracles. I love what you did here.

    Like

  4. I love this. The descriptions let us SEE her. I especially love the quality of being poised to take flight, at the end, “like a bird half-tamed.”

    Like

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