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Stephen Behrendt





She was in the garden when the fox appeared:

she glanced toward the fenceline --

fingertips paused on the radishes she was pulling,

red globes still cool in the dark May loam --

and studied his silent stare, his eyes on her

the way the boy in fourth grade watched her,

intense and burning, reading her orphanhood

with a hunger like a spark in tinder.

And it all came back, the blazing shame

and the freezing nights in the dormitory,

touched and taunted in the dark --

no name -- no one knows who you are --

weeping tears sour as the scrubwater

they made her use on the wooden stairs

while Sister Superior sneered, her beads rattling

like the wheels of empty boxcars beyond the back fence.


The other boys never noticed, never spoke,

but this one with the fox-colored hair did,

naming the name they gave her, rolling it

like a hard candy on his tongue, gently,

while she burned in awful stillness.

He never said what the others did,

nobody wants you.


But he left, too, without trace or echo,

and now here he is again,

purposeful at the garden corner,

his fierce eyes on her, boring in

while she gardens alone and vulnerable,

unfilled, expectant.


Devorah Baum

A. C. Grayling

David Toomey

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