“Foundling”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
April 24 2012 6:00 AM

“Foundling”


little boy staring at the snow

Photograph by Rohit Seth/Hemera.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Billy Collins read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.



How unusual to be living a life of continual self-expression,
jotting down little things,
noticing a leaf being carried down a stream,
then wondering what will become of me,

and finally to work alone under a lamp
as if everything depended on this,
groping blindly down a page,
like someone lost in a forest.

And to think it all began one night
on the steps of a nunnery
where I lay gazing up from a sewing basket,
which was doubling for a proper baby carrier,

staring into the turbulent winter sky,
too young to wonder about anything
including my recent abandonment—
but it was there that I committed

my first act of self-expression,
sticking out my infant tongue
and receiving in return (I can see it now)
a large, pristine snowflake much like any other.

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Books
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.