You’re Never Fully Dressed by Victoria Nordlund

This Halloween
I’m going as Adult Orphan.
I had no choice.
This garb shipped to me
without notice
and with no returns–
You might be picturing
the wide smile
and cute red dress that Annie
wore when she clutched Sandy
and Daddy Warbucks
as she sang Tomorrow
Or, perhaps a child-size
pinafore with patches,
tiny broom included.
Suggested props:
handkerchief over blond pigtails with a
gritty twinkle in eye.
But I am stuck dragging
this bitch of a costume
this ill-fitting XXL
Black burlap bag of grief
that hangs in tatters
over my bones
This outfit didn’t come
with pockets to hold my loss,
it scratches me raw and
I keep tripping over my
unraveling fabric
as the gaping holes
offer no protection
from these October nights I wish
I could sleep through.
I did try embroidering
I am fine.
Doing great.
Fucking Dandy.
along with assorted fond memory appliqués
to the front of the garment
so at least everyone else
will feel comforted.
This orphan also comes complete
with swollen eyes, ashen skin,
red gums and shedding hair–
My appetite that used to crave
the bite-size treats
behind every door.
Has abandoned me too.
I just wish I could be a daughter.
But this year,
It’s the hard-knock life for me–
Come what may
Orphan won’t come off tomorrow,
It has stitched and stapled into my skin.
Grafted its fibers in the damage.
Developed its own vessels to carry
the blood away from my heart.


Victoria Nordlund received her MALS from Wesleyan University. She teaches creative writing at Rockville High School in Vernon, CT. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Her work is published in Pank Magazine, Gone Lawn, Eunoia Review, Ghost Proposal, and Amaryllis. She is the 2016 NEATE New England Poet of the Year.