The woman with delicate fingers stops ten paces from the street
corner. Her knitted scarf looks hand done, perhaps by
a granddaughter. There is a chestnut leather purse over one
shoulder, the weight setting her skeleton off balance. She
sets the bag down gently on the sidewalk, and her arms disappear
inside it’s mouth. She looks to be scrubbing at its molars, searching.
It is hard to tell whether or not she has found what she is looking for.
Her mouth widens side to side, a thirsty bullfrog. At first I think she is singing. She is not.

She is wailing. The heavily lidded eyes gather moisture in the fissures
beneath sockets, she screams in Japanese. The only word
I understand is Kodomo. Child. She looks again into the bag. Perhaps she
placed its tiny frame amongst her perfumes and kleenex, its
fingers wrapped around her house key. Ten paces from the street
corner its body has grown stiff in her distraction.


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