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The “Chicken Girl”

The “Chicken Girl”
they called you, those who tutted, clucked
but wouldn’t “interfere” or help
the mother who, moustached retard,
couldn’t cope, left you at home all day,
all night, with feathered foster aunts.
Among the dust, the dried sick smell
of chicken mash, the one square yard
of sky, fluff, yuk, hexagonal eyes
of wire, square yard of sluttish sand…
Aged 10, tiny skull, hands bent back
at the wrist, “unable to communicate
except through head-jerking shrieks”
and, rarely, that self-crooning sound
that dust bath, or contentment, makes…
Perched on the social worker’s lap
I see you, bright disc-membraned eye
(the other side blurred over, scarred
from unhealed fights) staring back
at the camera as at a bottle cap.