Carrie Fountain
The Jungle

In motherhood I begin

to celebrate my own


smallest accomplishments,

as when I wake to find


I’ve slept through the night

and I feel a little healed


because sleeping is something

I didn’t learn how to do until


I was an adult and had to read

a book about it because, I’ve


always liked to joke, I was

raised by wolves. I was raised


by wolves was, in fact, the very

joke I made in explaining


to a fellow mom as the children’s

theater went dark that, like my own


young son, I was seeing The Jungle

Book for the first time. I don’t


even know what it’s about, I said.

I was sort of raised by wolves,


I said and laughed, and then

the curtain went up and I was


shocked, of course, to find

The Jungle Book is about a boy


who was raised by wolves,

and I am shocked again now,


having just googled it, to find

the number one query


associated with Rudyard

Kipling is: Is the Jungle Book


a real story? People are dumb

is what I was thinking, I admit,


when I read that, but then

I clicked and clicked and found


that—oh my god—The Jungle

Book is based on the story


of a feral boy found running

on all fours alongside a wolf


in the Indian jungle, which is

funny to me because feral


is the word that has always come

to mind when I think of the boys


I grew up with: those feral boys

who moved through the world


with the ease afforded to those

who didn’t give two shits


about anything, who’d empty

beer cans in seconds, wrap cars


around poles, all the while joking

about fucking each other’s


mothers. They were feral

in the desert shooting guns out


by the airport. They were feral

on their skateboards in the Whata-


burger parking lot. They were feral

because they were allowed


to be, and eventually we’d all

get in trouble for what they’d been


doing, even us girls who—what did

we do all that time while the boys


were fighting and spitting

and calling us whores? I don’t


know. We were talking to each

other, I guess, which is how we


became human. But no—no.

Those boys weren’t feral. Those boys


were typical. They’d been born

knowing the world would be theirs


long after they’d grown bored

of nihilism and turned their attention


to capital, became men, became man-

kind, the kind of men who’d ruin


something if it meant they got to

keep it, who’d kill something


if it meant they could see it up close,

maintain the illusion of having


owned it, having earned it, even,

who’d track a boy and a wolf


through the jungle for days until

finally they had them trapped


inside their own den. When those

men found they couldn’t lure


the boy out with words, they forced

him out with smoke. And when


the boy finally stepped out into

the sunlight those men captured


him, bound him, and when the wolf

who was the boy’s mother came


following close behind, the way,

at intermission, I followed my own


son, who is by now too old

to come with me into the women’s


room, to the very threshold

of the men’s room door—when she


came out behind him, they shot her.


Found In Volume 49, No. 02
Read Issue
  • fountain 0120 39
Carrie Fountain
About the Author

Carrie Fountain’s first collection, Burn Lake, was a winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series Award and was published in 2010 by Penguin. Instant Winner, her second collection, was published by Penguin in 2014. Currently Writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s University, she has had work published in The New Yorker, Poetry, and Tin House. Her first novel, I’m Not Missing, was published in 2018. She currently serves as Poet Laureate of the state of Texas.