In the Bahamas

The doctor looked at her stitches thoughtfully. A tall lean white man with an English manner. “Have you ever watched your mum sew?” he asked. “The fellow who did this hadn’t. I like to take a tuck on the last stitch. That way the skin doesn’t bunch up on the ends. Of course, you can’t see the difference, but you can feel it.” Later she asked him about all the one-armed and one-legged black men she kept seeing in the street. “Diabetic gangrene, mostly. There really isn’t more of it here than in your country, but there’s less prosthesis. It’s expensive, of course. And stumps are rather less of a shock when you come right down to it. Well, as we say, there’s nothing colorful about the Caribbean.” He tapped each black thread into a silver basin as he plucked it out. “Have you ever been to Haiti? Now there is a truly appalling place.”

:: Robert Hass, Human Wishes (1989)

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