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  • Claddagh Dance (Don’t Fucking Call Me “Ginger”), and: Stings, and: Red Night Desert District, and: Michael, please, and: Collectors
  • Mary Lenoir Bond (bio)

Stepchild, fire crotch, ginger balls, does the carpet match the drapes?

We are late sunsets scratching autumn across the sky. Rare, fleeting fireworks

like fall leaves, specimens collected like fireflies, awaiting a death jar.

Ambers, coppers, blueys, strawberry blondes, cinnamon red hots, carrot tops,

auburns, cherry pop rocks, I’ve heard them all but

I was told my people are going extinct, this mutation in the mc1r gene.

We’ll have to band together, procreate. Why isn’t anyone doing anything?

Hitler banned redhead marriage for fear of a defiantly tough race. I want

to scream down the streets, the halls, collect signatures at the grocery store,

march in protests, petition people at the mall.

It was a gift from my grandfather, sometimes it skips a generation. The word

ginger is derogatory in most of England, it’s an alienation, abomination, a way to

further separate. Kick a Ginger Day still exists, holiday cards in Great Britain read:

Santa loves everyone, even Gingers, but, Christ!,

it’s not a disease, this oddly recessive trait. They say,

we are fading away, like the panda, chimp, dolphin, dodo bird,

wiped out as early as 2060. And it’s a medical fact: [End Page 95]

we are 18 percent more sensitive; doctors and dentists cower. To the hearts

who have desired us, it inspired unintentional passion—projected—with no sense

of protection, for our strange race. We were once sold for the highest price—

at slavery auctions. A blue-eyed redhead is said to be as rare as a four-leafed

clover, a mere 1 percent of the population. One man said right to my face, I’m married to a

redhead, but I’d like to start a collection, if you’re interested.

Oh, and those jokes: Ruddy ranga orangutan, Ginga, Fanta pants, bloodnut slut.

I hope you realize we’re not all Irish. We’re also born in Israel, Mexico,

Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Northwest China, Italy, and Morocco!

Some people rub my head, actually pluck hair from my scalp, my back turned

away. Do they think I’ll lead them to a pot of gold, for fuck sake!? A stray hair falls

out—I do not brush it away. I twist it around my finger, a strange promise ring,

braided like hands, a crown, a heart, all on a mission against a merciless fate.


Saw my mother fall apartin the afternoons,housework done,threatened to leave us.This reminded me of a bee sting, [End Page 96] leaves the poison and dies.Said she’d fallen before Iwas born too, whenthere was anotherlike me but a doctorin Mexico took it.It was the 1960s. No choice.Mother once told me to livein a box, take nothing buthoneycomb and keys.I snuck in some sagebrushand jellybeans, and a usedGillette razor. I saw my motherthrough a crack in her emptybottle. She was tiredof climbing, all her nailswere bitten down, bloodyfingers, she touchedher face and smearedstreaks that looked tribal.That was the first timeshe became a real person to me,through those childhood eyes.I felt her closing down,as she howled and burrowed ahole away from meto a red-orange world.I followed a few days,ate some worms,turned back and sleptunder a solstice moon.Chomped on daisies and sangJanis Joplin tunes to a crowdof speckled cows in a shade-bluepasture. I rememberedstepping on a bee when I wasfive, calling for my mother, [End Page 97] swollen foot, swollen cries.Mother just said Ishould feel luckyto still be alive.

Red Night Desert District

Have mercy, I possessed rootsonly for three or four seasons.A natural disaster and then boom—tumbleweeds, still thriving after the wild

cycle. This is a good way to see it, the world.It’s a dry desert heat rusting—a ribbon vine green to red to brown.And I, a dead...


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pp. 95-101
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