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Gila River Review
Lauren Otey


When I met Andrea

her big blue eyes were stormy,

her thin blond hair in tangles,

and her skin caked with dirt.

Tears ribboned down her cheeks,

making pale white strands.


Fear played  about her tiny body.

Only three and already she knew too much cruelty

She clung viciously to her case worker who held her

as they entered the front reception room

of my home. 


I reached for her

and she for me.

Cradling her in my arms we left the room,

leaving the adults to talk.


“Mommy” she whispered


After her bath, a new little girl stood before me,

fear and uncertainty drained away with the dirt,

it was time for bed.

She looked at the crib

like it was a prison.

Her nails cut like glass

as I peeled her off of me.


Her terrified screams shattered the night.

“No mommy!  No go mommy! Mommy no!”

The storm was back.


I watched from the doorway

as she ricocheted off the side of the crib

landing safely on the mattress.

Once, twice, three times

she threw herself, trying to escape.


It was my turn to fear.


I snatched her up.

Her papery fair skin, now tainted

with ugly purple bruises,

I kissed cautiously.


Stability was a luxury

for children like her.

The abuse they endure-

the starving,

the beating,

the sexual touching,

it all creates scars

that are near impossible to mend.

Even with time.


Of all the children I had helped fostered

she would be the hardest

to say good-bye to

when the time came.

I, the sister, became became 'mommy'.

With the title came both joy and pain.


I paid no heed to the rules

imposed on foster families

and let her snuggle int the plush pillows of my bed.

I lay beside her as she drifted off.

Now relaxed and calm she dreams.

Her world at peace.

Lauren Otey is currently studying creative writing at CGCC.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College
2626 East Pecos Road, Chandler, Arizona 85225-2499
Phone: 480.732.7000 Fax: 480.732.7090

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