He was small for four years old.
Bitten up from the orphanage.
Scratches on his face.
I didn’t want him. Surprise
little brother in the car
when I walked out of high school
on a hot day. One tiny hand
smearing marks on the fancy
wood of the Mercedes dash.
The other pressed in the gold
cowhide of the front seat.
He leaned toward me,
said Hello Dion. He’d practiced
all the way from San Francisco
where he was bought
from some downtown lawyer
for the price of a new Toyota
after the state agency refused.
My father sat in back, shoes off,
peeling dead skin off his feet,
mumbling a worn-out argument.
My mother with parlor hair.
Aquamarine eyes. Smell of
Yardley Violets and antiperspirant.
What could I say? He was there
to save them. He clutched
a small red truck. He knew my name.
first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her work appears in Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Narrative, The New Ohio Review, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, Sugar House Review, Rattle, The Sun, and other literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry has been nominated for several Pushcarts and shortlisted for a variety of prizes. She is a member of The Hive Poetry Collective, which produces podcasts and events, and she facilitates ongoing workshops in an artsy farmhouse in the Santa Cruz Mountains—now on Zoom.
Author’s website: https://dionoreilly.wordpress.com