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Toti O’Brien

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. Born in Rome, living in Los Angeles, she is an artist, musician and dancer. She is the author of Other Maidens (BlazeVOX, 2020), An Alphabet of Birds (Moonrise Press, 2020), In Her Terms (Cholla Needles Press, 2021), Pages of a Broken Diary (Psky’s Porch, 2022) and Alter Alter (Elyssar Press, 2022).


To the girl who was me and wasn’t.
Thank you for your stubbornness,
love. How you insisted against
all odds, following the tortuous
path I had drawn, then covered
with dust in order to blur my traces.
To the girl who swallowed tears
and kept going. To the undefeated.
How you searched and searched,
convinced you’d find me somewhere
or else you would make me. You’d
fish scraps out of Grandma’s ragbag
and sew me together. So you did,
sometimes with uncertain stitches,
your thread tangling and breaking.
Then you bravely breathed the life
that was yours into my stuffed body.
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