A child, night-creeping
far from the whitewashed porch.
A winding aisle through pillar-trees
to lie in hallowed darkness
as the summer creatures hum.
Something floats in these trees,
sharp-limbed and laughing,
The child grasps wind-thin hands,
borne away in forest’s arms
Ada Hoffmann is an autistic computer scientist from Canada. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons and Goblin Fruit. You can find her online at ada-hoffmann.livejournal.com or on Twitter at @xasymptote. She says:
As a disabled person, I’ve always been of two minds about the idea of changelings. To a modern reader there’s something very romantic about the idea that there is a good reason you are not like the people around you, that it’s because you are really from another, more magical place.
But historically, folklore about changelings is not romantic or value-neutral. It has served as a way of dehumanizing disabled infants and children and justifying horrific abuses against them, including burning them in fires or household ovens, in order to get one’s “real” child back.
(Some facets of modern medicine do pretty much the same thing now, but without any faeries being involved.)
I’m not sure exactly what this has to do with the poem, except that I wanted to show a changeling child “wandering” and discovering the place where she really belongs.