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letter to a friend with typhoid fever

for C

I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Maybe you don’t recall, 

but my life has also been personally touched by typhoid fever. 

I lost a whole family to it, in fact, somewhere on the Oregon Trail. 

I mean. Whoever was left after I tried to make them ford that river.

They lost 2 axles, 6 bullets, 3 oxen, and someone named “Jeremy.”

I’m glad, even in Egypt, they have Cipro. We don’t seem so far apart

that way, but here I am watching the breeze blow up a burst 

of sleet over the daffodils and you’re on a beach, 

watching women in dark niqab, like seals on the rocks,

forbidden to swim at your “Western” hotel in their long, flowing dress.

You wonder if you’d be allowed to swim in a seven-foot 

dolphin costume while they languish. At least we’re aware

of all the ways in which we disappoint ourselves. Just now a cold snap

woke me to shut all the windows in the house. Two wrens

huddled above the screen-door never even stirred as I hammered

it closed. At least I’ve stopped lying in dread

of a pitfall in the distant path, a broken axle, a silliness

I’ve harbored all my life before, a fear of burning

or of being alive. I didn’t mean to imply you’d never change.

I meant, I hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.





hannah craig lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work has recently appeared in Fence, Prairie Schooner, the Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, and elsewhere.




©2012
photo credit: Sandra Neumann