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Perfect Heathen

“She’s next door to a perfect heathen.” 

~Marilla Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables 

 

Aggy, her string hair  

a mired nest of broken 

twigs plastered across rosewinter cheeks  

on which snowflakes make port,  

then melt in her warmth.  

We perch in a pavilion, eyeing the fenced-in zoo  

where kangaroos embrace in a dance named “sex.” 

Giggles mist the air; boots carve craters, a path  

of crunching snow, till our hands claw  

beams of steel-fence. Between our fingers 

now blossomed with frost: the barricade that severs 

us from them. We gawk, spellbound by mating  

creatures– the kangaroos keep 

dancing.  

 

Aggy, she remembers my birthday with care: 

plush turtle in needle-jabbed grasp,  

each stitch a graft of herself. Patchwork  

careful like her: surgeon, seamstress, vet.  

It’s the first I’ve seen  

a turtle shell go soft.  


Aggy, she sews my prom gown  

from nothingness: a ruby thing,  

creamy silk like a ravine of wine   

we can’t drink but it hugs   

my body just right. I wave a crinkled bill–   

an offering– hair waltzes along   

her cheeks as she declines,   

She says save me just one  

dance.   

 

Aggy, when my hands clasp 

and eyes shut for a second  

before our mouths flood with her mom’s   

caramels–it’s no meal but it needs thanks–  

she asks me what my God is.  

My words falter, but Aggy understands 

my God better: 

 

Refusal of a worthless bill, for the promise of a  

dance. 

 

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