“This Girl” by Ellie O’Leary
Everybody in Somerville is either
Irish or Italian
and we’re Irish.
Everybody is Catholic except a few
and we are High Episcopal.
Everybody knows we are supposed to be Catholic but
I know my mother
said we aren’t.
Everybody tells me my family will be happier
when we move to the country
where things will go more smoothly.
Everybody has a mother and a father unless
your mother dies
like mine did.
Everybody knows being poor means nothing
in a place where
everybody is poor.
The most important thing is having
a boy who likes you but
boys don’t like smart girls.
Being one is no help at all if you
are lonely or sick
of raising your hand.
Someday my prince won’t come and
I’ll go off on my own
to see what I find.
Everybody knows smart girls go to college and
this one is going
to one called Bates.
Everybody has a mother and a father or
a mother or a father
unless your father dies, too.
Everybody knows 18 is old enough to be
this girl is ready.
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Ellie O’Leary’s Artist Statement: Ellie O’Leary often writes about growing up in the village of Freedom, Maine. She is the previous host of Writers Forum on WERU-FM; in May 2013 she won the Martin Dibner Memorial Fellowship in poetry. She has taught writing at the Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondacks and at Belfast (Maine) Senior College. She works to help others find their own voice, particularly women and seniors who may not have written or shared their writing before. She currently studies poetry in the Stonecoast MFA program of the University of Southern Maine.