A is for a dirty girl,
Banished from the
Excluded because of an unlawful
Girls like her have no place here. They belong in
Hell, with the other dirty girls. Not in heaven like
I—we, the members of the church yet unmarried and still abstinent, do.
Jesus, hear us. Save the
Kids, keep them pure and out of temptation.
Low and behold, she’s back, the dirty girl, screaming curses.
Mother Mary above, she yells. Mothers cover children’s ears.
Never, she yells. Heaven? Never.
Oh, God, a mother says, and is suddenly
Pierced with sharp eyes turned, from the once-
Quiet girl, to her.
Red cheeks on the girl and the mother, the
Same no matter how different; an anger flush or an embarrassed irony.
Tiny sins, so easily picked out, even if hidden
Under years of righteousness.
Verbal curses on the ears of both, numbing their minds to the meanings of the
Words. They were both
Xenoliths among their
Young peers, but took different paths. One the
Zebra, blending in, the other ostracized.