The stone that strikes the spiteful child
is sharp, a flint that flies from her hand
to cut his crown. From the crease of the wound
a bead of sap swells and congeals
then ruptures its sphere; rivulets gel
across his forehead. His cry is harsh
and sudden: a splinter, a snap of bough
trapped and twisted and torn from its stock.
The wealth of wails weakens her fear.
She turns her back on the baffling tableau:
ignore the man and his mock philosophies;
ignore the boy with his bloodless cuts.
Her steps move her from the spitting meats,
the foggy broths in their ferrous cauldrons.
She limps towards the line of the wood,
to the hug of brackens that hide her from bedlam.