Sideshow

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For a nickel, you can take a picture of me
standing just so in front of
a wooden board
with a heart painted on it.

For a dime, you can take a picture with me,
you squatting behind and peeking through
like I’m one of those cardboard cut-outs
of an “Indian Chief” or a unicorn or some other
supposedly mythical creature.

When you offer a quarter, we move to the tent,
dim-lit and dusty, where I sit on the low
quilt-covered bed and pat the space beside me.
You are nervous. “Will it hurt? I mean, will it hurt you?”
I shake my head. “It never hurts. Not anymore.”
And then I take your hand and guide it up towards
the hole in my chest. You tremble for a second
as you reach through me, wiggle your fingers
around behind my back, disbelieving.

“Where is your heart?” you ask.
“How do you live without your heart?”
I don’t know how to answer, so I say,
“It’s amazing the things you can learn to live without.”

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