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Conversations with Strangers

my sister was lying 
in a hospital bed 
waiting for a tumour
to be cut from her liver.
each day we would 
congregate around her
bed and try to make
sense of what was happening.
each piece of information
the doctors fed us
became less palatable.
and we stood there
at her bedside
swallowing 
everything they
threw at us.

and what got me through
was not my family
was not faith
was not strength.
what got me through
was the midnight cab rides
back home from the hospital.
there is nothing that
can rival the compassion 
one can find in strangers.

each night a different driver
would show up and ask
the same question:

do you work here?
they would ask,
and I would just
let it all spill
out like coffee
from an upturned cup.

my god, the horror
of our situation!
I explained the look
on my motherís face when
we said goodbye each day.
how my father told me
he would never recover
if she didnít make it out alive.
how the whole situation
was getting out of hand.

and then it would come.
these poor bastards were
full to bursting with all manner
of tragedies and horror stories.
each man had seen enough
suffering to rival that of the Jews.
and it would happen like this each night,
as I looked out onto the streets
through the smoke stained
windows of my cab.
I would tell my stories
and they would tell theirs.
a state of mutual catharsis
was declared from the
moment I flagged them down.

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