Dear girl wandering several lawns from home. Dear woods and old stone fence. Dear laying flat spine on spiky rock. 

Dear pillows of white cake! 

Dear bleach-blond mother, dear blue-eyed father. Dear couple oozing Chanel whooshing off in Cadillacs. Dear carloads of cigarette smoke. Canasta and Hearts over coffee and sitcom after sitcom, even on school nights. 

Dear doves crooning from the woods in the morning.

Dear girl’s back bristling, softening, pinpoints of hot rock, tall pines piercing the woods and tapping the sky. 

Dear opening the door. Dear meatballs frying. Dear little brother and tricycle spinning in circles. Dear best friend waving across the lane, invitations to parties. 

Dear not in those jeans. Dear yes in these jeans.

Dear stone wall, dear hiding from the unkind girls, dear fat purple berries that might taste sweet or might make dye or might kill someone.

Dear mom. Dear loved like your heart was broken. 

And dear Dad. Dear loved like the ocean. 

Dear crying in the kitchen doorway. The words something to cry about. Dear Catholic Reagan man, shoulders taller than waves, teeth like spikes cracking nuts. 

Dear big hands a house for small ones, three quick squeezes. Dear church pew every Wednesday, incense clinking and wafting, sweet burnt ends of long matches. 

Dear baby oil on the back porch and huge flowered hats. 

Dear electric razor by the sink. 

Dear girl on her back, stone wall rising higher and higher, smelly dirt receding, spines of pines blurring past. Dear time making its leap.

Dear uniform laid out by socks and blazer. Dear saddle shoes, dear school bus. Dear twin beds, matching curtains, bedspreads. 

Dear buried in the sand, virgin cocktails, boardwalk fries. Dear first period. 

Dear saying it: not even my real mother. Dear smack.

Dear tiny kidney-shaped pool, Boca sun, lizards. 

Dear oxygen tanks, dear falls, dear furniture in storage. Dear hospitals and tubes and flights back and forth. 

Dear bed rest. Dear respiratory arrest.

Dear spiral fracture. Dear widow, dear amputee, dear ECT, dear pink lipstick, pink bows, pink loafers and pink lap-blankets. Dear glamorous even dead. 

Dear stone wall in ruins.

Dear coffins. 

Dear orphan.

Giavanna Munafo’s poems have appeared in Slab, Talking Writing, The New Virginia Review, Bloodroot Literary Magazine and The Nearest Poem Anthology (Ed. Sofia Starnes). Also, her work is forthcoming in E.Ratio. She holds a BA and PhD from the University of Virginia and an MFA from the University of Iowa. In addition to teaching in women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Dartmouth College, Giavanna is a volunteer crisis counselor and advocate and does consulting work focused on diversity and equity. She lives in Norwich, Vermont.

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