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Dot Girl

Coming home from school, dread heavy as an anchor.

Sunday dinners, how she’d cut half gallons of ice cream in slices to make it feed 12 of us.

Government cheese, brand-less canned food,
white labels and black words that read simply: Beans, Corn, Peas.

My brother calling himself a new name, telling me he was my sister.

My other brother telling him only wimps wanted to be weathermen.

Lying on the cool ground staring at the clouds for hours with no boredom or impatience.

Hiding under water in the Murphy pool believing no one could see me.

Fighting all afternoon at Garvey Park.  Surrounded by girls.
Michelle Ball, I punched in the face until she had an asthma attack.
Ann Marie McLeary, ‘til her nose bled hot all over my hand.
Nancy Shaughnessy, ‘til she cried and I realized they’d let me go home.

Competing in the Little Miss Dorchester contest. Losing in the picture drawing portion.

My sister peeing her pants laughing on the Fourth of July when dad locked us out of the house.

Wondering why I was alive.

That naked moment in Park Street Station when my mother claimed she no longer loved me.

Swimming like flying through water.

Being beaten in the tub. Being held down under the water.

The postman always smiling, always friendly, then one day gone.

My neighbors’ puppies, the urge I had to put them in the dryer.

Lying in the burning snow thinking about turning 7, how soon I’d have two digits,
how soon I would be old.

My mother crying at her own mother’s grave.

The sting of her fingers and her fists on my back.

Waiting with the social worker for my parents to arrive, relieved when they didn’t.

Her lipstick on Kleenex and cigarettes, picking them up and hiding them
like I somehow had stolen a kiss.

Dot Girl was displayed at Boston City Hall as part of the Boston Mayor’s Poetry Program 2017. Chosen by then Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges.

Also published in City of Notions, An Anthology of Contemporary Boston Poems, 2018 editor, Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges).

Linda Carney-Goodrich reading at Boston City Hall
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