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Ampersand isn’t good at poetry. She wears the makeup well, certainly, and she has a knack for matching handbags, but though she’s finally stopped rhyming, she just can’t grasp meter.

She only got into it at all because she loved words (she has begun to suspect that this doesn’t matter). She chose her name when she joined the circle; it was a favorite, because she’d read it was a mutation of et, Latin for “and.”

She likes that little word. It brings back high school Faulkner, the dearness and scariness of Vardaman, stubbornly telling them cooked and et. Cooked and et.