Thursday, June 17, 2010


(Illustration by J. Lockwood Kipling, 1895)

At first, they thought
It was a raccoon
Rooting through their trash,
Leaving a mess
On the back porch.

But one night, Lizzy
Got a look at him.
After she switched on the light,
He was gone in a second.
She never saw a person
Move so fast.
Though it was fall
And cold, the boy
Was naked, but
She barely saw his body.

For that instant, her eyes
Got locked with his:
Wide, green, wild, and full of –
Was it fear? His face
Was framed in crazy hair
That stuck out on all sides
And had leaves in it,
And lice too, she would have bet.
Then he was a blur,
Shooting off toward the trees.

She’d been half asleep
And headed back to bed.
She’d sleep no more that night,
Though there would be
No more disturbances to hear.
How old was he, she wondered.
It had left her, not afraid,
But more unsettled,
Her old view of life disrupted
By this unpredicted possibility.

She woke up her Charlie.
He called the police.
They went out back
With flashlights, poked around.
One stepped in human dung
Wiped on dry leaves.
The other said they’d had a similar report
About a week ago – a woman
Down the block – and she’d
Been able to describe him.
He didn’t sound like any
Missing children from the area.
Liz shuddered, picturing a tribe
Of missing children
Living hidden in the woods,
Something like Lord Of The Flies.

But she felt sure
That this boy wasn’t missing;
He’d been lost since birth.
His parents were not
Looking for him.
She felt sure
There were no words
For what he’d been through.

She wondered whether she
Should leave food on the back porch,
Keep the kid
From messing up their trash –
Well, OK, keep the kid
From starving. She flashed briefly on him
Catching birds for food,
Dismissed the image quickly
Lest it clarify too much.

As far as they knew, he never
Tried their house again. But from that night on,
She would keep the cat inside.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

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