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the children
were everywhere,
some you gave birth to
and some you didn’t,
some that lived and some
that wouldn’t. There were
houses and schools
and fields full.
There was
a man in the house
behind yours
who drank kerosene
to drown his rage
and caught his own
boy on fire.
There were ovens
and mines and shelters
and jails full.
In the mirror
there’s a girl
you spend your life
trying to convince
it’s okay to love
but all she does
is smile.



Rita Mae Reese is the author of The Book of Hulga (Wisconsin). She designs Lesbian Poet Trading Cards for Headmistress Press and codirects Arts + Literature Laboratory in Madison.




Photo by Dmytro Soroka on Unsplash




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