A gypsy appeared as a witness under the tent
before an audience of revivalists,
told them she was no one’s sister, mother, wife.
The rest of her life’s story
wrapped in a bundle she carried on her back.
Their faces looked up at her
like headcheese spoiling under dank glass.
She said after storms birds sang to her
through broken beaks and along the pavement
animals flattened into stiff hides hummed lullabies.
She gave them a place in her dreams
and circled their heads with a song.
In the field outside the tent
I stared up at her as if I’d seen a ghost.
What’s the matter skunk got your tongue.
Emptying my pockets I offered a turtle shell and a snakeshed.
She squatted on her heels in the brush.
Crouched before me like a blind bird after a snow
she muttered to herself, the only voice echoing
through the snakegrass and osier.
On your way on your way,
girl be on your way.
You who are no one’s child
give voice to a necklace of song,
to the only dream you are.