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By Katherine Soniat

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Sample text

At midnight, he was circling the gas pumps like a dog remembering a leash. No one knew his name. Found: the owner of the ankle bracelet, mother of the gas-pump baby, discovered the next day, a wad of bills in her fist, heaviness in her head. Found: in a closet, a one-year-old, two-year-old, and a five-year-old; a family locked in so big brother could go out. Found: in a bathroom at the Emergency Children's Facility, two four-year-olds having oral sex. Unaccounted for: brother and sister dreaming on the urine-soaked mattress sleeping in the midst of broken sticks of furniture eight inches of clothes layering the floor the wood padded with dirt Page 34 Graffiti With hearts and skulls and scarlet scrawls, thousands swear at this boulder of a world as if words could sting each passerby into one sharp breath of recognition, blame taken by the men in dark suits, the fault resting with women who ever wore red.

And now there is this suggestiveness in a beard. I grew giddy once, then backed off and frowned at the Bearded Lady in the midst of moonlit dung even then there was a hint that few will come out of this the smooth, round child of the mother.  I saw him and centuries of young standing stock still in the distance. So, I wrote him to head for shelter, dodge, jump, hop over it; be an agile body with the feet under rifle fire.  He was staring through binoculars, only his eyes touching that red blotch on my stomach.

And here I am wandering the back roads of Pinellas to fetch you something wild, refusing myself the plots of fenced gardens tinted hibiscus, those spoiled violets laid out north of the orange tree.  With Spanish moss I tie the bridal bow. Late last night, your mother brought out the round happiness of you at twelve months old a photo saying you looked just like my son. I sensed the next sprout of logic, knowing him as a mirror-me: the three of us sitting on a porch, Page 55 twined and held together as if planned to be.

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