The wild girl of Champagne
clasped a leather pouch
hiding a knife inscribed
with unknown characters.
She had thumbs like hoes
for digging roots
and skinning rabbits,
fingers spread
like a seine
for catching fish
in the shallow creek.
Refusing a bed,
the girl slept in a tree
sagging with snow.
She learned to speak,
told the nuns
slavers had painted
her black and sold her--
an easier memory
than being lost
in woods outside
a peasant village,
her stepmother
returning home after
an indifferent search
and sitting down
to a quieter supper.

JESSICA RAMER is an MA student at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Before making this mid-life change, she taught and tutored algebra in Florida.