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rows and rows

Honorable Mention – 2018 Poetry Contest

the day before they found her baby tucked
into that crawlspace for safekeeping,
i sat on the kitchen floor in front of her,
just two houses down from my own,
knobbed bones of her knees dimpling my back
while she tugged my hair into cornrows—
racing stripes down my little girl skull.
her fingers working like knitting needles, the bones
clacking against each other. when she leaned over me
to pull my bangs back, weave them in,
i saw the polka dots clustered in the crook of her arm
like a constellation. i forgot when she began
the next braid, the tender skin above my ear
rising with each strand. i gnawed my nails
to nubs to keep silent with the ouch
in my scalp, but sometimes it spilled
from my mouth. she laughed like the sound
of a coke can cracking, told me it shouldn’t hurt—she has a daughter.
and mothers understand gentleness.

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Contributors

Kiyoko Reidy is a recent UW–Madison graduate with degrees in philosophy and creative writing. She enjoys poetry, being outside, and sharing the things she loves with others. Her work has appeared in Albion Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Driftwood Press, and elsewhere.

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