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 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.