SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Raised by Strangers by Michele Leavitt

The gray squirrel’s tail shimmies.

Wind rushes the bamboo. So the like-


minded sing to one another,

and are thrilled. I’m no exception,


just outcast and forced into a love

affair with disagreement. I remember


huge toys and all around me,

the scent of too much Chanel,


the sharp edges of sequins,

the thickness of red lipstick,


then white-gray chinchilla fur.

In the bath, I felt skinned, too.


The adopters said my first word

was outside. No surprise.


Squirrels chirred at me from the maples

to say they’d been robbing dens,


knocking down roses, starting fights,

stealing mother’s trinkets.

Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also a high school dropout, adoptee, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. Her essays appear in venues including Guernica, Catapult, and The Sycamore Review. Recent poems can be found in Poet Lore, North American Review, Gravel, and Baltimore Review. More at www.michelejleavitt.com

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