Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Looking for Virginia Dare
In 1587, Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the New World and was
one of the members of the “Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island. Her grandfather
was among those who later returned to search for the colonists.

Of course, you would have sung
from the boat offshore as the others did,
songs she’d surely recognize—

English tunes, a minor key. And like them,
you’d search the unfamiliar fields,
grasses gray and mauve and brown,

waiting for another season to reclaim
their colors. Bits of remembered conversation
spirited away. Was she robbed of alphabet?

She does not call out her name.
The world’s a dangerous place for a child—
so write the lost daughter as the forest.

Write her as all that was lost within it.
Call her gone. Or, perhaps—
call her not yet found

Yes, it’s a perilous world—
but doesn’t every story deserve its turn?
Can’t you see her now, come

unbidden from behind the trees?
Noisy birds unsettle the branches,
stirred by shadows, the half-shadows

imagination brings. Her face
lit by all that is lovely, strange.
So close. Thick scent of her hair.

You’d insisted she was missing—
now, ask for her forgiveness.
And reach for the shy hand

of the girl who might yet return—
who hadn’t meant to be away so long.
Because she is waiting there, she comes

in a dream so startling you see
it is not a dream at all, your own
life decided by these hills, this river,

these trees. And because she is still
there, you have reason to believe
you, too, might witness it: the daughter—

nowhere, somewhere. And always new.  

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