(A poem for David Wheelers prompt at The High Calling: “For this week’s Random Acts of Poetry, write a poem to, or in honor of, an orphan, someone you know who has adopted one, or your own adopter.”)
Some orphans know their own
date of birth or mother’s name
or that she drank too much or was loved
too little. But Jip, he had no idea even
what was his own name, first or last neither,
both being told him as a piece
of the tale of the day he said his life
began; they called him “Jip West” on account of
he was a baby fallen off a gypsy (get it?) wagon
on the West Hill Road (that’s how the story got told).
But you’d have to read the rest to get
why it really was a good thing Jip ended
up a Vermont poor-farm orphan, best friends
with a lunatic, and when his mother abandoned
her baby at the curve of a dirt road,
it was her great and selfless gift.
And I wonder now, having been with Jip
so many times I lost count, I wonder how
it could even be that though I’m no orphan,
never knew Jip’s kind of life and terrors—
how could it be that if you’ve read about Jip
you’ve read about me?