Sympathy Pains

She spoke almost dispassionately
of female genital mutilation, which

she had suffered as a seven-year-old,
nipping it in the bud so her mother said.

As he listened and cringed, his week-old,
umbilical hernia surgery ached as it

hadn’t for five days, but he knew hers
was the opposite of his circumcision;

her deep pain was permanent in its
numbness. He felt sick to his stomach.

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