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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 4, December 2013

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Anita Virgil
Forest, Virginia, USA


The Trouble With Strangers

As often happens, strangers strike up a conversation as they travel through their days. Taxis, planes, trains, in grocery stores. Anywhere. This warm summer morning, a lovely young woman and I are parked side by side, both putting away things in the trunk of our cars. And by what route one decides to speak to a stranger of what is foremost on our mind, she tells me she is on the way for more tests at the hospital.

So golden fair, so young and healthy-looking is she, my face shows instant puzzlement. “I’ve had a partial hysterectomy,” she confides, “when I had ovarian cancer. “And she looks off into the distance. I notice a puffiness above the waist of her loose cotton dress. Lamely suggest, “Maybe you’re pregnant?” Like a wisp of cloud has crossed the sun, her face dims. “All the tests, so far, are negative . . . .”

To forget her
I make soup.     Peel a potato,
find rot inside.

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