A Woman of Sychar

by Cristina Legarda

John 4:4-42

My first lover was a student, a scribe in the making,
and I could have listened to his accent all day long. 
My next one had a chest full of hair
and I think my fascination with it annoyed him.
My third had a wife, and what’s more, he loved her,
but she was unwell and couldn’t really be with him.
Then there was the rabbi, who was always polite,
and then a handsome Roman with eyes like the sky.
I finally found someone who was willing to take me in,
make sure I had enough to eat,
not ask too many questions.

But how did you know the truth about me?
A life spent moving from one sandstorm to the next – 
how could you look at me and speak of grace
knowing what you knew about my past?
Perhaps that was the most startling of all – 
not that a man would speak to a woman,
or a Jew to a Samaritan, 
but that you would take water from my jar
without a sneer, that a sandstorm so strong
could ever subside, that I could, 
for once in my life, be unafraid.

Who are you, that even the storms 
that rage unseen
obey the sound of your voice?

Cristina Legarda was born in the Philippines and spent her early childhood there before moving to Bethesda, Maryland. She is now a practicing physician in Boston. Her work has appeared in America magazine, The DewdropDappled Things, PlainsongsFOLIORuminate, The Good Life Review, and others.

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