and all thy life be happiness and love

(Note left by a mother with her child at The Foundling Hospital.)


I nested my daughter in a little basket,
with three tokens to speak for me:
an acorn, a violet, an egg-shaped pearl.

I read my daughter a story, to lull her to sleep
for ever: the polar bear whose bath taps
were cold and icy. She wanted more, more.

I spilled my daughter a droplet at a time
in secret. A shame-trail of spots, her footprints.
She was outside me, and still inside.

I pencilled my daughter into my notebook,
prayed she would fade. She reappeared
in my diary; I couldn’t not remember.

I tucked my daughter up in one of my dreams,
somewhere between midnight and dawn,
so I’d be free in the daylight.

I entrusted my daughter to the castle
where a green lady with a bundle in her arms
drifts past the clock tower, to the cliffs.

I surrendered my daughter at the border
of the debatable land. For years, over and over.
She was a sunset, a cathedral of colours.

Every time I dropped my daughter like a foundling,
I ran back to reclaim her,
to bring her home. Her soft name.