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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 1, March 2018

Adelaide B. Shaw
Millbrook, New York, USA

Drawing Blood

She is young and willing. How could he, an aging widower, resist her soft and waiting arms, her silky and responsive body? The coming baby is unexpected, a problem for him and his family.

"My best friend!" his daughter says.

"She's no better than a whore," his mother and sisters say. "Worse than marrying Enid, that lazy, frizzy blonde."

Enid had coped with gin to silence the criticism, until the gin silenced her. And, where had he been all those years? Cowering in the background, afraid of the harpies' condemnation. A coward then. A coward now.

Should he pay her off? Send her away and wash his hands? Even lye wouldn't clean them or strip away his guilt.

a pile of ash
and cigarette butts—
the night
ticking into dawn
burning memories

a sharp stab
drawing blood—
can he suture the wound
with repentance and grief?

one bad turn
does not beget another—
there is a new road
free of litter and detours
leading to a second chance



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