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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Damaged Goods

“I’m enough of a romantic,” he confessed, “to wish

that I could be your first and only.” He looked

     chagrined, not hurt. “And I wish—”

and now there was hurt in his voice, even tears

in his eyes—“I wish

you could be my

     one and only also.”

This was news. “But?”

Once, he confessed, he had given in to the urging

of the fellows and gone downtown with them,

just before Guam.

“And a more deeply humiliating experience,”

he said, “I hope never to have.” He shook his head.

“If there ever was a place to

     teach you that the mind and body

need to act together—not to mention

the heart—a whorehouse is it.”

“Hmm. Whorehouse philosophy?”

“I guess. And then—waiting to find out if I’d

picked up some dreadful disease!” He clapped his hand

to his forehead. “Oh, the misery!”

“The horror,” I intoned, and he joined in:

“The horror.”

He pointed at me. “Like you, fearing

you were pregnant. Oh lord!”

“A whole month!”

“Agony.”

“And the shame!”

“An abyss of shame.”

“The guilt.”

He nodded. “A swamp of guilt.”
“Slogging through the swamp of guilt—“

“—each step a torment—“

“I can’t believe I’m laughing

               about this.”

He lifted his shoulders, spread his hands,

     eloquently.

“Was it really so bad?” I asked him.

He consulted the ceiling. “Well. I may have

     exaggerated, a wee bit.” Fingers held

a quarter inch apart.

“Oh, Cory. I do believe I love you.”

His eyes were down; he lifted them to mine

only slowly. Then he was up, his coat on, he was

pulling on his cap—“Why? Why are you leaving?”

“I’m leaving before you

     can take it back. No, don’t say

     another word.” At the door he turned and set

his hands on my waist. I covered his hands

with my own, holding him to me.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Since you’re going to

marry me. I always did hope that my wife

     would love me.”

I did my best to keep

     my smile steady. “How could she not?”

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