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Violet was four when her father taught her how to cut valentines out of red and white

construction paper and glue them onto lace doilies. They walked to neighbors' houses, put

valentines on the doorstep, rang the bell and ran away. At eight, she started cutting the hearts in

less-than-perfect shapes. Sometimes she cut a small tail on top of the heart. She told her father it

was the superior vena cava. She had seen it in a book in the attic with pictures of the body. She

wondered why he had not told her the real shape of the heart. Whenever her father made chicken

for supper, she wanted to hold the heart, run her baby finger inside the ventricles. By the next

Valentine's Day she had saved up enough chicken hearts in the bottom of the freezer for all the

kids in her class. She made neat little envelopes with the doilies, stuffed a frozen heart inside

each one.

Jeanie Tomasko ( is the author of Sharp as Want and Tricks of Light, with poems recently published in The New Guard, Qarrtsiluni, and Right Hand Pointing. Jeanie lives in Middleton, WI. Violet's application is pending for yet another supervised living arrangement.
Current Issue
4 Mar 2024

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