A Girl Named Joy

I was 12 years old the first time
I did relief work for the church.
Dropping my bike in front of the yellowed,
rust bottomed mobile home,
my blue sneakers crunched the gravel.
I took it all in, standing quiet, still.

A girl broke through the front door—
short, wild blonde hair, in all directions
exciting the child’s pure complexion.
Her mismatched, stained clothes
swallowed her small body.
Barefooted and without pain
She dashed across the gravel to meet me.

A sticky, jelly streaked hand
Reached up to grab mine.
A wide toothless smile,
across her thin lips.
“I’m Joy,” she said. “You want to see the new puppies?”
Without waiting for my answer, she tugged me into the house.

Toys strewn everywhere,
clothes, garbage and old food cluttered the hallway.
A defiling smell of pee hit my nose strong, as the
puppy yips were louder with every step.
A mattress, sheetless and discolored, held the
new puppies huddled together,
with still-shut eyes and whimpering.

Clumsy and blind they fell over each other,
fighting for the warmest spot.
But for one puppy, the fight never started.
It lay stiff, far from the group and silent.
“This one was born dead,” Joy whispered,
then gently picked up the still-born and
held it against her cheek.

A Girl Named Joy

katiemcmullin

Joined December 2008

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