Betsy Sholl
        
Tereska
		After the photo by David Seymour, “Tereska,
		A Child in a Residence for Disturbed Children,”
		Poland, 1948


She’s been given chalk and asked to draw
a picture of home, so it’s hard to see
in her spiraled lines an abstract design,
hard to think “antic delight in pure form,”
when she stands beside the board, looking
fixed and wary, having just mapped a world
slashed with barbed wire, a world crossed out,
going up in chalky flames, yellow smoke
scribbling its dust over roofs, curtains,
books and dolls, whatever a house once held.
Someone’s put a ribbon in her hair,
but she’s hardly a little girl, glaring 
as if to warn: ask for something pretty,
and she’ll cat-scratch with that chalk,
claw and hiss—this is her home now,
this world found only by tearing up the map,
this town without streets, house with no mother,
no music, no lights, just a heap of rubble
where a mind lives hunched down and feral,
defending the one thing it knows.