By Julie Cadwallader-Staub

Such a love of a dog! the woman exclaims
as she bends to pet Belle at the playground.

She’s a rescue, I say, found
nearly starved to death with puppies.

I shake my head and wonder aloud
How could anyone abandon such a sweet dog?

She snaps I’m a foster mom!
You should see what they do to children!

By the time my dog nudges me from my standstill
I am lost in a labyrinth of thought

Where does anger end and sorrow begin?

Does anger sputter to a halt when sorrow takes its first breath?
Does sorrow dissolve when anger is in the lead?

Or do they travel side by side,
even hand in hand, like sisters?

And how did Kate find her way through the sorrow of losing her sister?
Did she ever find an end to her rage over losing Maddie to a dealer
a dealer who waited until Maddie was dopesick, her craving excruciating,
until Maddie would do any thing to make it stop

and then he pounced, knowing
you can sell a bag of dope only once

but a girl?
again and again and again.

With gratitude to Kate O’Neill, who wrote: “Trafficked: How the Opioid Epidemic Drives Sexual Exploitation in Vermont”

The Potomac Review published Listen and Sisters in their spring 2021 issue.

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