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The Amish Woman
Helen Ruggieri

I pretend to look at the bread but look at the rough fabric of her blue dress, the dry skin of her plain face. Her hands are chapped across the knuckles. I want to rub rich cream scented with herbs across the backs of her hands. Instead I hand over the price of a loaf where we meet to exchange goods for dollars at the Farmer's Market.

I think of her kneading bread on the scrubbed table, the child feeding chunks of wood into the stove, her rocker by the window for extra light in the evening, armless, so there will be no resting.

We meet, treading time as if it were water, our worlds focused on trade, my worldliness, her purity. I want to touch her century, to button up the devil in 17th century clothes. I want to yank her into my century, to whisper to her, we have been to the moon; you can save the children from whooping cough, from polio.

A bearded man in blue whispers something to her. Children in round black hats whoop behind her stand.

old barn
moving deeper and deeper
into the weeds

published in The World Haiku Review