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Freak of the Week

Freak of the Week

The same day the Seniors voted Rachel Burnheart “Freak
of the Week,” I got lucky, paired with that pretty Freshman
to dissect the owl pellets wrapped in plastic and packed
in little boxes in bigger boxes stacked in columns in the corner
of the AP Biology Lab.  Together a whole week, we searched

for Microtus pennsylvanicus, shrink-wrapped, compacted
and mummified in gossamer shrouds in the gullets of owls.  
Our teacher told us each pellet contained between three
and eighteen voles, and soon it became contest who could diagram
and name the most parts of the whole: slivers of rib bones

like fingernail trimmings, fibulae bent into strange
question marks.  This was in Music City, in the center of Tennessee,
in North America on the third planet of our solar system
where, just down the hall past the lockers, desire ground down
to rumor that Rachel had held two ball player’s cocks

in her mouth at once and would do it again.  A week later,
she was gone for another school, hopeful word would not follow,
the principal suspended the boys involved, and no more freaks
would be named.  What became of Rachel Burnheart
I do not know.  But that first week of school we lived

blissfully enraptured by the sad lives of voles, they,
she said, who knew nothing of the fate drawing zeroes
in the sky above; the hunted, easy prey picked up mid-scurry
through the leaves and spun inside-out in the belly of night
and dropped back to earth where we reconstituted their bodies,

starting with their craniums shaped like tiny saber-toothed
tiger skulls, miniature bone urns we reunited with the countless
vertebrae and ulna and scapulae tweezered from hair, spit,
and blood spread out before us across the lab table engraved
with promises of FUCKED SLUTS and whores.

Cold Mountain Review, Spring 2011

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